Answers to Common Questions

Can I be evicted for letting my children play outside?
No.  It is 100% illegal for a landlord to refuse to let children play outside. Likewise, it is illegal for a landlord to evict someone who has let their children play outside.  Federal and state fair housing laws guarantee families the right to let their children play outside in common areas.  This is true even if other tenants don’t like the noise.  Children are allowed to laugh, play, make noise, and run when playing outside.   A landlord cannot stop this, even if other tenants claim that it interferes with their daytime sleep, or that elderly tenants don’t like children running around making noise.  You are free to allow your children to play outside and you cannot be evicted for having done so.  Don’t live in fear.  The law is on your side.
Can my landlord require me to supervise my children when they are outside?

No. The law doesn’t allow a landlord to require children to be supervised when outside unless there is a compelling reason to justify such. A “compelling reason” is not something trivial such as the landlord’s desire for peace and quiet, or that he does not want children running around unattended. Rather, a compelling reason is situation where the child would be in imminent danger if he wasn’t supervised, such as requiring supervision of young children in a pool. Otherwise, the landlord cannot require supervision of kids. The reality is that some landlords demand that children be supervised (even teenagers) because it’s their way to keep kids out of the common areas, thus ensuring a peaceful and quiet complex. This is not allowed. As one particular court noted, “Common sense also dictates parents are responsible for supervising the activities of their young children without the need for a written rule. Just as one who enters a national forest does not require a written rule stating it is unlawful to start a forest fire or one entering the Redwood forest does not require a written rule about cutting the old growth, neither does a parent need to be instructed by apartment rules not to leave a young child unsupervised.”

As such, a parent is free to allow their children to play outside unsupervised even if the landlord doesn’t think this is good parenting. With this in mind, it is illegal for a landlord to require children to be supervised while playing in the common areas because a child “might” wonder off or fall and hurt themselves. Unless the danger is clearly real and obvious, then a landlord cannot require supervision of a child. A landlord’s fear of “liability” or concern that a child might get hurt if unsupervised is not legal grounds to permit him to require tenants to supervise their children. The landlord must leave such decisions to the parent. As one court has noted, “Safety judgments are for informed parents to make, not landlords.” One particular court found that a rule which stated “Children on the premises are to be supervised by a responsible adult at all times” resulted in “explicit” discrimination against children.

Can I Be Evicted For My Kids Being Too Loud?

No and yes. No, you cannot be evicted if your kids make normal kid noises during normal hours (usually between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m.). It is perfectly okay for kids to run, laugh, giggle, and make some noise inside and outside of their apartment.  One particular court ruled that a written apartment rule which stated “Children will not be allowed to play or run around inside the building area at any time because of disturbance to other tenants or damage to building property” violated fair housing laws.  In short, children are allowed to laugh, play, run outside, and make noise.  You cannot be evicted for letting them do so.  Moreover, a landlord cannot silence such behavior simply because other tenants don’t like the noise, or claim that it interferes with their daytime sleep.   If a landlord tries to evict you for having let your children play, then please contact us.   We can help you.

On the other hand, you can be evicted if your kids make unusually loud noises at odd hours. Your landlord cannot ask your kids to be quiet at all times. However, you can be evicted if your kids make unusually loud noises at odd hours, such as playing drums at 1 a.m. or turning on the stereo full blast at midnight.  Common sense dictates when noise is unreasonably loud.

 

What if I signed a lease and agreed to abide by the apartment rules which prohibit children from playing outside?

You will be relieved to know that the law will not require you to abide by illegal apartment rules simply because you signed a lease agreeing to do so. A federal court recently addressed this very issued, and ruled that “a tenant cannot contract away his or her rights under the Fair Housing Act.”  In other words, you are not bound to follow the rules of a lease simply because you signed it. If an apartment rule violates the law, then tenants are NEVER required to abide by the rules even if they signed a lease agreeing to do so. An apartment rule is always illegal if it violates anti-discrimination laws. If the landlord tries to evict you for refusing to follow an illegal apartment rule, then he has committed housing discrimination.  As such, a rule which requires all children to be supervised in the common areas (other than the swimming pool) would clearly be illegal and would be unenforceable.  You would not be required to follow such a rule, even if you signed a lease agreeing to do so.  A landlord does not have the power to cancel fair housing laws.

Let’s make it more obvious with a clearer example. Assume that a tenant signs a lease and agrees to abide by an apartment rule that says, “No tenant in the complex may bring Mexican friends to the complex.” This rule would clearly be illegal and the law would never permit a landlord to enforce such a rule. The landlord cannot avoid the law by saying, “My tenant signed the lease and agreed to abide by this rule.” The tenant has no obligation to abide by this rule.  Likewise, since fair housing laws allow children to play outside, the landlord cannot take this right away by making the tenant sign a lease which does away with such right.

What if a tenant signs a lease that says that children cannot play outside of their apartment?

You will be relieved to know that the law will not require you to abide by illegal apartment rules simply because you signed a lease agreeing to do so. If an apartment rule violates the law, then tenants are NEVER required to abide by the rules even if they signed a lease agreeing to do so. An apartment rule is always illegal if it violates anti-discrimination laws. Your landlord cannot take your rights away by forcing you to sign a lease that takes away such rights. Such a lease is unenforceable   If the landlord tries to evict you for refusing to follow an illegal apartment rule, then he has committed housing discrimination.
Let’s make it more obvious with a clearer example. Assume that a tenant signs a lease and agrees to abide by an apartment rule that says, “No tenant in the complex may bring Mexican friends to the complex.” This rule would clearly be illegal and the law would never permit a landlord to enforce such a rule. The landlord cannot avoid the law by saying, “My tenant signed the lease and agreed to abide by this rule.” The tenant has no obligation to abide by this rule.”

Is it legal for my landlord at my apartment complex to impose a curfew upon my children?

No.   Multiple courts have ruled that it is illegal for landlords to impose a curfew upon children. The Fair Housing Act makes it illegal for a landlord to enforce a curfew against children.  As such, a landlord cannot enforce a rule that requires children to come inside at a given time.  It is the responsibility of parents to determine when to bring their children inside, not the landlord’s.

Discrimination against families with children: Is it legal?

It is illegal for a landlord to refuse to rent to a single parent or family with children. For example, a single woman applies to rent a one bedroom apartment with her six year old daughter. The landlord tells her that children have to have their own bedroom, so they cannot rent the one bedroom apartment. The landlord has just discriminated against this woman because of the fact that she had a child.

Another example, a landlord declines to rent an apartment to a single male, saying that he doesn’t want the rental to become a bachelor pad. The landlord prefers to rent to a family. The landlord has just discriminated against this man.

Another example, a landlord tells a family with children that he does not want to rent an upstairs apartment to them because children are too noisy when they live upstairs. This is illegal as a landlord cannot refuse to rent any portion of a complex to a family.
Another example, a landlord only permits families with children to live in a certain portion of the complex. This is illegal as a landlord cannot force families with children to live solely in a predetermined area. Families are permitted to live in any area of a complex, even if other tenants think that they will be noisy.

Is it legal to refuse to rent an apartment to someone with kids?

It is illegal for a landlord to refuse to rent to a single parent or family with children. For example, a single woman applies to rent a one bedroom apartment with her six year old daughter. The landlord tells her that children have to have their own bedroom, so they cannot rent the one bedroom apartment. The landlord has just discriminated against this woman because of the fact that she had a child.

Another example, a landlord declines to rent an apartment to a single male, saying that he doesn’t want the rental to become a bachelor pad. The landlord prefers to rent to a family. The landlord has just discriminated against this man.

Another example, a landlord tells a family with children that he does not want to rent an upstairs apartment to them because children are too noisy when they live upstairs. This is illegal as a landlord cannot refuse to rent any portion of a complex to a family.
Another example, a landlord only permits families with children to live in a certain portion of the complex. This is illegal as a landlord cannot force families with children to live solely in a predetermined area. Families are permitted to live in any area of a complex, even if other tenants think that they will be noisy.

Example of Discrimination Because of Race or Color: An African American man sees a “for rent” sign out in front of an apartment complex. As such, he asks if he can see the apartment, but the manager tells him that the apartment was just rented. Two days later, the African American man again sees the same “for rent” sign out in front of an apartment complex, so he again asks if he can see the apartment, but the manager again tells him that the apartment was just rented. As a result, the African American man calls a white friend and asks him if he will pretend like he wants to rent the apartment. The white friend agrees, and goes over to the apartment. The white friend is told by the same manager that there is an available apartment for rent. The African American man has been the victim of unlawful racial discrimination in housing.

Discrimination Against Families With Children

What if a tenant signs a lease that says that children cannot play outside of their apartment?

Is this legal? No. A “tenant’s rights” include the right to be free from discrimination against their kids. Unfortunately, tenants are illegally subjected to eviction by their landlord due to their race (racial discrimination) or due to the fact that they have children. In virtually every case, it is illegal for a landlord to penalize, give warning notices, or evict families due to the fact that their kids play outside, make noise, run, ride bikes, throw balls, or play with toys in the common area of the apartment or condominium rental property. This is true even if the parents signed a lease which promised that they would not let their children play outside at the apartment or condominium complex. A landlord can never require children to remain indoors even if the tenant signed a lease which agreed to this fact. Although an apartment complex may desire peace and quiet, it is unlawful to require families to force their children to remain inside to accomplish this end. Also, rules that target kids are almost always illegal, however, parents rarely hire an attorney to challenge such unlawful apartment rules. By the same token, a condominium association’s covenants, codes, and restrictions which place limits on children (e.g. a curfew or noise level aimed at kids) is illegal and unenforceable. As it stands, families of all races, African American (Black), Mexican (Hispanic), Asian, and Caucasian (White), are unfortunately being subject to apartment or condominium rules which require them to keep their minor son, daughter, nephew, niece, or grand kids inside or which refuse to allow these kids to play in a reasonable manner. This is not the appropriate life for a child, nor for his mother or father.

If I Sue For Discrimination, Can My Landlord Evict Me?

No. It is against federal law for a landlord to evict someone who has filed a lawsuit for discrimination. The courts will not allow a landlord to evict someone in retaliation for them having filed a discrimination lawsuit.  This is true even if you were to lose your lawsuit.  Courts want people to sue for discrimination without having to worry about what will happen if they lose the case.

By the same token, you cannot be evicted for simply complaining to your landlord about illegal rules.   If a landlord threatens to evict you for complaining about rules, then such a threat is illegal.  You have legal rights.  You do not have to live under these types of conditions.   You can do something about it.  If your landlord has threatened to evict you for complaining about apartment rules, then you need to contact us to assist you.   Don’t be paralyzed with fear.  Nothing will happen to you if you act.  The law is there to protect you, not hurt you.

Can My Landlord Raise My Rent In Retaliation For Me Suing For Discrimination?

No. Federal law prohibits a landlord from retaliating against anyone who sues for discrimination. A landlord cannot do anything in response to you suing for discrimination: He cannot raise your rent, evict you, fine you, take away your parking space, or do anything else that is punitive.  This is true even if you were to lose your lawsuit.  Courts want people to sue for discrimination without having to worry about what will happen if they lose the case.  The law is there to protect you, not hurt you.

What If I Sue For Discrimination And Lose: Would My Landlord Be Allowed To Evict Me?
No. Federal law does not allow a landlord to evict you if you lose a discrimination lawsuit.  To the contrary, if your landlord attempted to evict you after you lost such a case, this would directly violate federal law. In sum, if you file a lawsuit for discrimination, you do not have to win the lawsuit to avoid being evicted. You get to stay in your apartment no matter what the outcome of the lawsuit.  Courts want people to sue for discrimination without having to worry about what will happen if they lose the case.
Can my landlord evict me if I simply complain to him about the rules that prohibit kids from playing outside?
No. You don’t need to file a lawsuit to receive the protections provided by federal law. If you object to the landlord about apartment rules that unfairly discriminate against children, then the law prohibits him from retaliating against you in any manner. If he does so, his act of retaliation is a violation of law.
Can my landlord refuse to renew my lease because of my kids?

No. A landlord cannot refuse to renew your lease simply because your kids are noisy or they play outside. Peace and quiet for the community does not allow the landlord to refuse to renew your lease. A failure to renew your lease is a violation of law.  One particular court ruled that a written apartment rule which stated “Children will not be allowed to play or run around inside the building area at any time because of disturbance to other tenants or damage to building property” violated fair housing laws.

If your landlord says, “We’re not going to renew your lease because tenants are tired of all of the noise your kids make,” then this comment is illegal.  You have the right to refuse to move out under such circumstances.  One particular court found it illegal for a landlord to exclude children from an apartment complex because the landlord felt that children were “rowdier, noisier, more mischievous and more boisterous than adults.”   Simply put, your landlord cannot refuse to renew your lease simply because he’s tired of your kids.  That’s illegal.

Can a landlord evict someone because their kids are too loud?

No and yes. No, you cannot be evicted if your kids make normal kid noises during normal hours (usually between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m.). It is perfectly okay for kids to run, laugh, giggle, and make some noise inside and outside of their apartment.  One particular court ruled that a written apartment rule which stated “Children will not be allowed to play or run around inside the building area at any time because of disturbance to other tenants or damage to building property” violated fair housing laws. In short, children are allowed to laugh, play, run outside, and make noise. You cannot be evicted for letting them do so. Moreover, a landlord cannot silence such behavior simply because other tenants don’t like the noise, or claim that it interferes with their daytime sleep.  If a landlord tries to evict you for having let your children play, then please contact us.  We can help you.

 

On the other hand, you can be evicted if your kids make unusually loud noises at odd hours. Your landlord cannot ask your kids to be quiet at all times. However, you can be evicted if your kids make unusually loud noises at odd hours, such as playing drums at 1 a.m. or turning on the stereo full blast at midnight.  Common sense dictates when noise is unreasonably loud.

What does the Fair Housing Act prohibit?
The Fair Housing Act is a federal law that prohibits discrimination in apartment complexes and condominiums against families. The Fair Housing Act makes it illegal for a landlord to refuse to rent to families with children, or to refuse to allow children to play outside in common areas, or to require supervision of children (other than in clearly dangerous situations).  The point behind the Fair Housing Act is that it is the parent’s responsibility to monitor their own kids, not the landlord’s right.   As one court noted, “Common sense also dictates parents are responsible for supervising the activities of their young children without the need for a written rule.  Just as one who enters a national forest does not require a written rule stating it is unlawful to start a forest fire or one entering the Redwood forest does not require a written rule about cutting the old growth, neither does a parent need to be instructed by apartment rules not to leave a young child unsupervised.”   Another court put it more succinctly, “As a general rule, safety judgments are for informed parents to make, not landlords.”  In short, it is illegal for a landlord to refuse to rent an apartment or condominium to somebody because that person will have children living with them. Moreover, if  a landlord rents to a family, the landlord does not have a right to control that family’s children.
Can an apartment refuse to allow children to play outside?

A landlord cannot require children to remain indoors. If a landlord requires a tenant to keep their children locked up indoors at all times, then this is illegal. A landlord may not penalize families who allow their children to play outdoors at the apartment complex. It is illegal for a landlord to claim that the peace and quiet of the tenants requires that children not play outside. Simply put, children are allowed to play outside and they may make reasonable noise while doing so. If a family is punished for their children acting like normal children (e.g. the kids aren’t lighting fire crackers or playing drums in the open courtyard), then this is illegal discrimination. One particular court ruled that a written apartment rule which stated “Children will not be allowed to play or run around inside the building area at any time because of disturbance to other tenants or damage to building property” violated fair housing laws.

In short, Federal and state fair housing laws guarantee families the right to let their children play outside in common areas. Children are allowed to laugh, play, make noise, and run when playing outside.   A landlord cannot stop this, even if other tenants claim that it interferes with their daytime sleep, or that elderly tenants don’t like children running around making noise.  You are free to allow your children to play outside and you cannot be evicted for having done so.  Don’t live in fear.  The law is on your side.

 

Can a landlord prohibit children from playing outside if he applies the rules to all tenants, not just children?

No. Some landlords attempt to discriminate against children, however, they are afraid to draft rules that specifically single-out children. To make it appear that they are not specifically discriminating against children, they will draft rules that appear to be neutral. For example, rather than having a rule that says, “Children are not allowed to play in the common area” the rule, instead, will say, “Tenants are not allowed to play in the common area.” This makes it appear that the rule is not specifically aimed at kids, as it is written so that it applies to all residents. In most cases, this is an attempt to hide the fact that the landlord is actually trying to prevent children from playing. Fortunately, Court’s don’t look at the specific words used in a rule, but, rather, look to see whether the rule disproportionately affects children. If a rule disproportionately affects children when applied, then it is considered to be discriminatory. For example, a rule that says, “No resident can play outside” would be discriminatory since children would be the group that is primarily affected by this rule.  Likewise, a rule that states, “the common areas are only to be used for ingress and egress from your apartment and nothing else,” would clearly discriminate against children, as it would prevent them from playing outside.

Courts are wise to the fact that landlords use various tricks to hide the fact that they don’t want children to play outside.   A rule does not become legal simply because the landlord has not expressly indicated that the rule applies to the children of the complex.  Any rule that stops children from playing is illegal, no matter how neutral the rule may look on paper.

 

Does a landlord’s concern over liability or fear of getting sued, allow a landlord to require children to be supervised?

No. Every business in the country is fearful of these two things, but that does not mean that it can run roughshod over a person’s legal rights. By the same token, federal and state fair housing laws expressly protect the rights of families and children to be free from discrimination against children. By law, children are allowed to play outside just so long as there isn’t a compelling reason that would require supervision. A landlord’s personal fear of liability does not qualify as a compelling reason that would allow him to usurp a family’s federal and state fair housing rights. A compelling reason usually deals with a true, dangerous situation if the child is left alone, such as small children swimming in a pool unattended. If the landlord truly has a legitimate safety concern that he is trying to address, then he must take careful precautions to narrowly tailor a rule that will deal very specifically with a limited problem. For example, if the landlord is worried about young children drowning in the pool, then it is perfectly okay to have a rule that says, “Children under 14 must be supervised while swimming.” However, the landlord goes too far if, in an effort to solve this problem, he creates a rule that says, “No children are allowed to play outside at any time.” Yes, this would also solve the problem, but the rule is too broad.

One court summed it up perfectly, when it ruled as follows: “Concerns that children will get hurt while playing outside, be it nicks, scratches, bumps or bruises, have been concerns dogging parents since the dawn of time.  Were such ever-present, generalized concerns deemed sufficient in and of themselves to justify outdoor use restrictions to an apartment complex, there would be little place left that such a rule would not be considered valid.   In short, the mantra of child safety cannot and is not sufficient to justify a restriction.”

The reality is that some landlords simply don’t want children playing outside, so they come up with a vague justification for refusing to allow kids to play, namely, that playing isn’t allowed because they don’t want to get sued if the child gets hurt.  This is not a valid reason to refuse to let children play outside.  Your children are allowed to play outside.  The landlord cannot use fear of liability as an excuse to prevent your children from playing, or to require them to be supervised when playing.

How Strict Can An Apartment’s Rules Be Against Children?

It is a common misconception that an apartment complex is free to make rules regulating the conduct of children. This is false, yet it happens frequently. As one court has aptly noted, “Safety judgments are for informed parents to make, not landlords.”  In rare situations, apartments can make some limited rules against children. Absent the rare situation, it is illegal for apartments to have rules which prohibit children from playing outside, playing with toys, laughing, making noise, or having fun.  One particular court ruled that a written apartment rule which stated “Children will not be allowed to play or run around inside the building area at any time because of disturbance to other tenants or damage to building property” violated fair housing laws.

It is always illegal for an apartment to have rules which state that children are not allowed to play, walk, sit, stand, or talk in the common areas. In other words, it is illegal to require children to stay indoors. This is true even if children cause noise.  The law realizes that children make noise and requires society to put up with this noise, provided that the children aren’t being unreasonably loud. For example, it would be okay for an apartment to prohibit children from playing drums or playing their radio very loudly. However, it would be illegal for an apartment to penalize children for laughing, talking loudly, or getting excited in public. Although a landlord may want a quiet complex, the law does not permit it. Rather, the law requires all complexes to accept reasonable noise from children. By the way, if a landlord threatens or attempts to evict a person because their children made reasonable noise, then this would be discrimination.

The only time that an apartment can make rules against children unless there is a compelling reason to justify such. A “compelling reason” is not something trivial such as the landlord’s desire for peace and quiet, or that he does not want children running around unattended. Rather, a compelling reason is situation where the child would be in imminent danger if he wasn’t supervised, such as requiring supervision of young children in a pool. Otherwise, the landlord cannot require supervision of kids. The reality is that some landlords demand that children be supervised (even teenagers) because it’s their way to keep kids out of the common areas, thus ensuring a peaceful and quiet complex. This is not allowed. As one particular court noted, “Common sense also dictates parents are responsible for supervising the activities of their young children without the need for a written rule. Just as one who enters a national forest does not require a written rule stating it is unlawful to start a forest fire or one entering the Redwood forest does not require a written rule about cutting the old growth, neither does a parent need to be instructed by apartment rules not to leave a young child unsupervised.”

Is an apartment complex allowed to make rules just for kids?

In most cases, no. The Fair Housing Act states that it is unlawful for a landlord to make rules that attempt to control children.  Your landlord cannot make rules that unfairly affect families with children. For example, it is illegal for an apartment complex to have rules that prohibit children living upstairs, from swimming in the pool, from playing outside, from playing with toys, or rules that prohibit children from crying loudly. In short, any rule that singles out children may be considered illegal and discriminatory against families that have children.  One particular court ruled that a written apartment rule which stated “Children will not be allowed to play or run around inside the building area at any time because of disturbance to other tenants or damage to building property” violated fair housing laws.

It is always illegal for an apartment to have rules which state that children are not allowed to play, walk, sit, stand, or talk in the common areas. In other words, it is illegal to require children to stay indoors. This is true even if children cause noise.  The law realizes that children make noise and requires society to put up with this noise, provided that the children aren’t being unreasonably loud. For example, it would be okay for an apartment to prohibit children from playing drums or playing their radio very loudly. However, it would be illegal for an apartment to penalize children for laughing, talking loudly, or getting excited in public. Although a landlord may want a quiet complex, the law does not permit it. Rather, the law requires all complexes to accept reasonable noise from children. By the way, if a landlord threatens or attempts to evict a person because their children made reasonable noise, then this would be discrimination.

The only time that an apartment can make rules against children unless there is a compelling reason to justify such. A “compelling reason” is not something trivial such as the landlord’s desire for peace and quiet, or that he does not want children running around unattended. Rather, a compelling reason is situation where the child would be in imminent danger if he wasn’t supervised, such as requiring supervision of young children in a pool. Otherwise, the landlord cannot require supervision of kids. The reality is that some landlords demand that children be supervised (even teenagers) because it’s their way to keep kids out of the common areas, thus ensuring a peaceful and quiet complex. This is not allowed. As one particular court noted, “Common sense also dictates parents are responsible for supervising the activities of their young children without the need for a written rule. Just as one who enters a national forest does not require a written rule stating it is unlawful to start a forest fire or one entering the Redwood forest does not require a written rule about cutting the old growth, neither does a parent need to be instructed by apartment rules not to leave a young child unsupervised.”

Can an apartment require families with children to live in a particular section of the complex?

No. This is a completely illegal practice, but it happens all of the time. It is illegal for a landlord to segregate families with children into one particular area of the complex. Likewise, it is illegal for a landlord to prohibit families with children from living in a particular section of the complex, such as upstairs or in the “quiet area” of the complex. The law requires ALL tenants to put up with some noise from children, even if they don’t like it.

My downstairs neighbor is complaining about noise made by my kids in the apartment. My kids aren’t doing anything unusual, just playing. Also, they don’t play early in morning or later at night. Can I be evicted? My neighbor is harassing me about my kids being too loud. My landlord won’t intervene and stop the neighbor. What can I do?

The landlord has an obligation to inform the neighbor to stop harassing your kids. If he fails to intervene, then the landlord violates discrimination laws by knowingly allowing tenant to continue to harass you and your kids.

Retaliation and Discrimination Against Families

Does a landlord’s concern over liability or fear of getting sued, allow a landlord to require children to be supervised?

No. Neither is a legitimate reason to require supervision. Every business in the country is fearful of these two things, but that does not mean that it can run roughshod over a person’s legal rights. By the same token, federal and state fair housing laws expressly protect the rights of families and children to be free from discrimination against children. By law, children are allowed to play outside just so long as there isn’t a compelling reason that would require supervision. A landlord’s personal fear of liability does not qualify as a compelling reason that would allow him to usurp a family’s federal and state fair housing rights. A compelling reason usually deals with a true, dangerous situation if the child is left alone, such as small children swimming in a pool unattended. If the landlord truly has a legitimate safety concern that he is trying to address, then he must take careful precautions to narrowly tailor a rule that will deal very specifically with a limited problem. For example, if the landlord is worried about young children drowning in the pool, then it is perfectly okay to have a rule that says, “Children under 14 must be supervised while swimming.” However, the landlord goes too far if, in an effort to solve this problem, he creates a rule that says, “No children are allowed to play outside at anytime.” Yes, this would also solve the problem, but the rule is too broad.

 

 

Can a landlord refuse to allow children play outside because he is worried about liability or is fearful of getting sued?
No. Every business in the country is fearful of liability but that does not mean that it can run roughshod over a person’s legal rights.  By law, children are allowed to play outside. A landlord’s personal fear of liability does not qualify as a compelling reason that would allow him to refuse to let children play outside.   One court summed it up perfectly, when it ruled as follows: “Concerns that children will get hurt while playing outside, be it nicks, scratches, bumps or bruises, have been concerns dogging parents since the dawn of time.  Were such ever-present, generalized concerns deemed sufficient in and of themselves to justify outdoor use restrictions to an apartment complex, there would be little place left that such a rule would not be considered valid.   In short, the mantra of child safety cannot and is not sufficient to justify a restriction.”  This particular court recognized the fact that landlords would be able to completely control the lives of children if they could simply claim that they were worried about liability.

 

The reality is that some landlords simply don’t want children playing outside, so they come up with a vague justification for refusing to allow kids to play, namely, that playing isn’t allowed because they don’t want to get sued if the child gets hurt.  This is not a valid reason to refuse to let children play outside.  Your children are allowed to play outside.  The landlord cannot use fear of liability as an excuse to prevent your children from playing. Courts are concerned about actual, real danger, not possible dangers that can occur.  For example, there is clearly a risk if children are allowed to shoot bb guns, hit hard baseballs, or throw lawn darts in the common areas, as an injury could easily occur. Obviously, a landlord can prohibit such activities. However, there is no such risk if children toss sponge balls, blow bubbles, play hopscotch, or play badminton. There is no risk with these activities. A manager cannot prohibit kids from engaging in such activities.

Can My Landlord Prohibit Teenagers From Socializing?
No. If the rule is specifically aimed at teenagers (e.g. the rule says, “No teenagers may loiter on the premises”) then the rule is illegal. The landlord is required to treat teenagers equal to adults. A landlord cannot make rules that single-out teenagers. By the same token, the landlord cannot refuse to allow teenagers to visit an apartment, simply because he is worried about them “causing trouble.” Teenagers cannot be singled out. They must be treated equally as adults.

Equally important is the fact that a landlord cannot require teenagers to be supervised in common areas.  Multiple federal courts have found it illegal to have rules that would prohibit teenagers from being in the common areas unless they were supervised.  A landlord cannot require teenagers to be supervised while in common areas.

Is it permissible to have adult-only swimming hours or Jacuzzi time?
No. It is illegal to exclude children from the pool at anytime while the pool is open. A complex cannot set aside time for adults only. It is also illegal to exclude children from the Jacuzzi, unless the child is physically too young to sit in a Jacuzzi. The pool and Jacuzzi must be accessible to children during the same hours that it is accessible to adults. The law does not permit a landlord to make separate rules for children, no matter how convenient it might be to adults. A child can only be excluded if it would clearly be too dangerous for the child to use the facility. Likewise, although landlords may not want teenagers hanging out in the Jacuzzi, he cannot exclude them from such.
Can my landlord evict me if my kids make too much noise while playing inside the apartment?
No. Your landlord will probably be surprised to learn that he cannot tell your children to quit playing inside of the apartment. Federal and state fair housing laws expressly require apartment dwellers to put up with normal, reasonable noise from children. This noise would clearly include noise made by children while playing in an apartment, provided that their conduct isn’t overtly unreasonable (e.g. jumping off their beds at 1 a.m., or playing the stereo on high late at night) . The manager cannot evict you if your kids have been making normal noises while playing inside your apartment, such as laughing, giggling, or rolling on the floor. To do so is illegal. The law does NOT make another tenant’s desire for peace and quiet paramount to your children’s right to play in their apartment. To the contrary, the law expressly states that a desire for peace and quiet is NOT grounds for making rules against children. Children make noise. That’s part of being a kid. The law requires landlords and tenants to put up with such noises. This would include allowing kids to play around inside their apartment at reasonable hours even if another tenant complains.
Does the peace and quiet of the community allow the landlord to prevent kids from playing outside?
No. The law requires tenants to put up with reasonable noises made by children. The law expressly states that a desire for peace and quiet is NOT grounds for making rules against children.  One particular court ruled that a written apartment rule which stated “Children will not be allowed to play or run around inside the building area at any time because of disturbance to other tenants or damage to building property” violated fair housing laws.  Another court held that it was illegal for a landlord to exclude children from an apartment complex because the landlord felt that children were “rowdier, noisier, more mischievous and more boisterous than adults.”   Simply put, your landlord cannot refuse to allow children to play outside simply because they will make noise.

A frequent problem that occurs is that some tenants will constantly complain to management about the noise that children make while playing outside.  In other words, they want the complex to be quiet.  The manager might feel compelled to listen to these complaining tenants, and tell parents to either keep their kids inside, or only allow them to play if they are quiet.  This is illegal.  Children have the right to run, play, laugh, and make noise. A landlord cannot insist upon a quiet complex. Children make noise. That’s part of being a kid. The law requires landlords and tenants to put up with such noises. It is illegal to attempt to silence children so that others will not have to deal with their noise. Any rule that attempts to do so is illegal and unenforceable. As such, a landlord cannot prohibit children from playing hopscotch, Hot Wheels, Barbies or dolls, hand held video games, reading books, tossing soft balls, playing tag, or any other harmless game.

Another problem that occurs is that a landlord will tell children to go back insider their apartments if they are being too loud. This is illegal for a few reasons.  First, a landlord cannot order a child to go back inside their unit under any circumstances.  This is true even if the child was out of control or making extremely loud noises.  A child has the right not to have someone exercise control over their person. While there is nothing inappropriate about a landlord asking a child to calm down, she cannot order a child to go back inside their unit. Second, children are allowed to make normal noise while playing.  As such,  a landlord cannot stop this noise even if it is annoying to them.  Just so long as the children aren’t being extremely loud, they are free to make normal noise while playing.

Yet another problem that occurs is that a landlord will declare that she does not want children playing outside because there are tenants who work nights and sleep during the day.  This is not justification that would allow a landlord to refuse to let children play outside.  Children are free to play outside even though some tenants may sleep during the day.

Skateboards, bicycles, and scooters: Can they be prohibited?
Yes and no. Generally speaking, a landlord cannot prohibit activities of children unless there is a compelling need to do so and the rule is not too invasive. It is not unusual for an apartment complex to post rules that state that skateboards, bicycles, and scooters are not allowed. Usually, these rules are enacted to put an end to annoying kids. This isn’t a legal reason for such rules. As noted in other parts of this website, the desire for peace and quiet is not grounds for prohibiting children from playing. Rather, the landlord can only prohibit activity if the landlord can show that there is a serious threat of injury if the activity is permitted to continue. Moreover, even if the possibility of injury can be shown, the rule cannot go too far. For example, if the complex has a narrow sidewalk and children have crashed their bicycles into other tenants, then it may be okay to prohibit bike riding. However, the rule would go too far if it also prohibited toddler bicycles or push cars, as nobody is reasonably going to get “run over” by a toddler bike or push car.

The same thing would apply to an apartment rule that prohibits throwing footballs, baseballs, or any other device. If there is a true danger present, then it can be prohibited. However, if there is no real danger, then it cannot be prohibited. For example, it would be okay to prohibit throwing hard baseballs, as a baseball could cause injury to person or property. However, it would be inappropriate to prohibit a nerf football, a sponge ball, or any other safe throwing device.

Broken Sprinklers: Can a landlord refuse to allow children to play in the grass because she is afraid of sprinklers getting broken?
Some landlords will use any excuse to prevent children from playing.  One such excuse is that they are afraid that children will break sprinklers.  This is not a legal justification for refusing to allow children to play outside.   This is just a fake reason to keep children from playing outside.  Children are free to play on lawns.  If a sprinkler is broken, a landlord is free to bill the parent the cost of replacement, but they cannot use this as an excuse to prevent all children from playing on lawns.

By the same token, a landlord cannot claim that playing is not allowed because they are afraid that children will trip over a sprinkler and get hurt.  This is not a legal justification for refusing to allow children to play on lawns or outside.  One court summed it up perfectly, when it ruled as follows: “Concerns that children will get hurt while playing outside, be it nicks, scratches, bumps or bruises, have been concerns dogging parents since the dawn of time.  Were such ever-present, generalized concerns deemed sufficient in and of themselves to justify outdoor use restrictions to an apartment complex, there would be little place left that such a rule would not be considered valid. In short, the mantra of child safety cannot and is not sufficient to justify a restriction.”  This particular court recognized the fact that landlords would be able to completely control the lives of children if they could simply claim that they were worried about liability.

Can my landlord evict me for getting pregnant or because my baby cries?
No.   A landlord cannot force a woman to move out simply because she is pregnant, nor can families be evicted because their baby cries.  Fair housing laws recognize that three people can share a one-bedroom apartment.  Any remaining bedrooms can have up to two people in each bedroom.  If the addition of a new baby will not exceed the occupancy limits, then it is illegal for a landlord to require a tenant who has a baby to move out.

In addition, a landlord cannot force a family with a new baby to move out because the landlord is worried that a crying baby will upset neighbors.  Neighbors are required to put up with the sounds of crying babies.  Federal law protects families of newborn babies.  If a landlord threatens to evict a family because their baby cries too much, or cries at odd hours, then the landlord has violated fair housing laws.  Babies are allowed to cry at any hour and a landlord is required to put up with it.

 Racial Discrimination In An Apartment Complex

Can an apartment complex rent to adults only?
In very rare cases, a complex can refuse to rent to families with children. However, this is an extremely rare situation and will be discussed at the end of this section. In the vast majority of cases, however, it is illegal for a landlord to refuse to rent an apartment, condominium, or house to somebody because they have children. If they refuse to do so, then they are guilty of discrimination even if the landlord appears to have a good excuse.
For example, a landlord might state, “We don’t allow families with children because most of our tenants work at night and sleep during the day and kids would wake them up.” It would be illegal for a landlord to refuse to rent based upon this excuse.
As for the exception, if a community is a retirement community and is officially designated as “Over 55” or “Senior Housing,” then children may be excluded. It is very easy to spot such communities. These communities must prominently display the fact that they are “Over 55” or “Senior Housing.” If a community isn’t designated as such, then they have no legal right to exclude children.

 

Do undocumented immigrants have the right to sue?

Yes. American laws protect all people who are in the United States, regardless of whether they are Americans. You do NOT have to be an American citizen to file a lawsuit for housing discrimination.

 

Discrimination Against Undocumented Residents

I am not an American citizen: Do I have any rights?

Yes. American laws protect all people who are in the United States, regardless of whether they are Americans. You do NOT have to be an American citizen to file a lawsuit for housing discrimination.

I’m afraid that I’ll be deported if I file a lawsuit. Is this a possibility?

No. A person does not have to be an American citizen to file a discrimination lawsuit. The law protects everyone who has been a victim of discrimination, regardless of whether they are an American citizen. Also, nobody can question you about your citizenship status during the lawsuit since it is not a relevant topic. Moreover, a lawyer could actually risk losing his license or being reprimanded by the California State Bar (the organization that polices lawyers) if the lawyer threatened to report a non-American citizen to Immigration in retaliation for you filing a lawsuit. In sum, your citizenship status cannot be raised during the course of the lawsuit.

I am not a citizen. If I file a lawsuit, will the Immigration Naturalization Service learn about it?

No. When you file a lawsuit, you are not asked to prove that you are an American citizen. Moreover, nobody is allowed to question your citizenship during the case. In short, the law does not inquire into your citizenship status after you file a lawsuit. This is nothing for which to be concerned.

I was discriminated against while I lived in the United States, but I have now moved back to Mexico. Can I still file a lawsuit for discrimination even though I no longer live in the United States?

Yes. You can sue while living in Mexico if the discrimination took place while you lived in the United States.

Can a landlord refuse to allow kids to play outside if the kids or their parents are not legalized citizens?

No. A landlord cannot refuse to allow kids to play outside on the basis that they are not legal American citizens. This would be a complete violation of federal law. Federal law prohibits discrimination against children – – regardless of whether that child is an American citizen. All kids are protected by these laws, even illegal aliens.

Can I go to jail if I file a lawsuit and lose?

No. A person can never be sent to jail for losing a housing discrimination lawsuit. American courts do not send people to jail for losing civil lawsuits. A housing discrimination lawsuit is a civil lawsuit.

I don’t have any money. How can I afford it?

If we decide to accept your case, then you will not be required to pay any attorney’s fees or costs unless we win the case for you or successfully cause the other side to settle before trial and pay you money. If we accept your case and cannot recover any money for you, then you will owe nothing to us for our efforts.

Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals

Can I be evicted for having a service animal?

No.  By law, a landlord must accommodate someone who has a service animal.  This is true even if the landlord has a no pets policy.  A landlord is required to waive its no pets policy to accommodate a disabled person in need of a service animal.  A tenant in need of a service animal need only supply proof that the tenant is disabled and that their animal has been certified as a service animal or emotional support animal.  Once such is provided, the landlord must accept the service animal.  It is a violation of federal law for a landlord to attempt to evict someone who has a service animal or emotional support animal.

Does a person have to be classified as disabled in order to get a service animal?

Yes.  This is not a difficult thing to establish.  If a medical doctor determines that a person is emotionally handicapped due to life’s circumstances, the doctor can prescribe a service animal.  Once diagnosed as disabled, a landlord cannot reject a tenant’s diagnoses of a medical disability and, therefore, must accept their request for a service animal or emotional support animal.

Is there a difference between a service animal and an emotional support animal?

No.  Both are permitted by law.  A service dog may perform various functions for a person, but an animal is not required to perform functions to be admitted.  The mere fact that an animal brings peace and satisfaction to a person who suffers emotional distress, is grounds to permit such animal to act as an emotional support animal.

What animals can act as service animals?

Virtually any animal within reason can act as a service animals.  Courts have approved of birds, cats, and dogs as emotional support animals.

Can my landlord increase my security deposit because of my service animal?

No.  It would be a violation of federal law for a landlord to increase your security deposit due to you requesting a service animal.

Does my service animal have to be specially trained before I can use it?

No.  The law does not require a service animal to be specially trained.