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.”