Familial Status discrimination Under The Fair Housing Act
The Fair Housing Act is a federal law that prohibits discrimination in housing based on several protected classes, including race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, and disability. This law applies to most housing transactions, including rentals, sales, and financing. In this blog post, we will focus on familial status discrimination under the Fair Housing Act.
Familial status discrimination refers to discrimination against families with children under the age of 18. This includes discrimination against pregnant women and families with children who are in the process of adopting or obtaining custody of a child. The Fair Housing Act prohibits housing providers from denying housing or making housing unavailable to families with children, as well as from imposing different terms, conditions, or privileges on them.
One of the main reasons why the Fair Housing Act includes familial status as a protected class is to prevent discrimination against families with children who are trying to secure suitable housing. Many families with children face significant obstacles in finding suitable housing, such as affordable rents, proximity to schools, and neighborhoods that are safe and supportive. Discrimination against families with children can exacerbate these challenges, leading to poorer housing conditions, increased housing instability, and other negative outcomes.
Examples of familial status discrimination can include refusing to rent to families with children, imposing occupancy limits that effectively exclude families with children, or refusing to make reasonable accommodations for families with children, such as allowing them to install safety features or make minor modifications to their units. Other examples of familial status discrimination can include refusing to provide access to certain amenities or common spaces or treating families with children differently from other tenants in terms of rent, fees, or lease conditions.
It's important to note that not all housing providers are subject to the Fair Housing Act's protections against familial status discrimination. For example, single-family homes that are sold or rented by individuals who own three or fewer homes are generally exempt from the Act's familial status protections. Additionally, some housing may be designated as senior housing, which can restrict occupancy to individuals who are over a certain age.
If you believe that you have experienced familial status discrimination, you can file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). HUD investigates complaints of housing discrimination and can take enforcement action against housing providers who violate the Fair Housing Act. In addition to filing a complaint with HUD, you may also want to consider consulting with a housing attorney who can help you understand your legal rights and options.
There are also several steps that housing providers can take to ensure that they are complying with the Fair Housing Act's familial status protections. For example, housing providers can avoid using language in their advertisements or postings that suggests a preference for tenants without children, and they can avoid imposing occupancy limits that would effectively exclude families with children. Housing providers can also work with families to make reasonable accommodations for their needs, such as allowing them to install safety features or make minor modifications to their units.
In conclusion, familial status discrimination is a form of housing discrimination that can have significant negative impacts on families with children. The Fair Housing Act provides important protections against familial status discrimination, and it's important for both tenants and housing providers to understand their rights and responsibilities under this law. If you believe that you have experienced familial status discrimination, you should consider filing a complaint with HUD or consulting with a housing attorney. Additionally, housing providers can take proactive steps to ensure that they are complying with the Fair Housing Act's familial status protections and providing equitable access to housing for families with children.