The Stay at Home Order issued by California Governor Gavin Newsom requires residents to “stay at home or at their place of residence.” If you venture out for necessary functions, including outdoor exercise, you are required to comply with social distancing orders.
The question that arises is whether your landlord or apartment manager can stop children from playing in common areas at an apartment complex or a condominium complex because of the coronavirus Stay at Home Order. The answer is, no. The COVID-19 crisis does not give your landlord or apartment manager the right to stop children from playing outside. This is true even if your landlord or apartment manager is worried about children spreading the coronavirus to other residents. That’s not how the law works. The law allows children to be outside, so long as they honor social distancing guidelines, by staying 6 feet away from people.
Unfortunately, some landlords and apartment managers have taken the law into their own hands, and have threatened tenants with eviction if they let their children play outside. That is completely illegal. During the COVID-19 crisis, your children have the legal right to play outside in common areas, and you cannot be evicted for allowing them to do so. If your landlord or apartment manager threatens to evict you for your kids playing outside, such an attempt will fail.
During these difficult times, children need (more than ever) to be outside playing, getting their stress and anxiety out. It is essential for their mental health to be able to do so. This will certainly cause conflict with adult residents who are at home, and want peace and quiet. Many adults are working from home, and don’t want noise. While this is understandable, that is not how fair housing laws work. Children have the right to play outside, and to make reasonable noise. Yes, they get to make noise even if adults don’t like it. The COVID-19 crisis does not take away this right. The key point is that the noise has to be reasonable. Laughing, running, and normal kids’ noise is allowed. Banging on a drum, or playing loud music isn’t allowed. The desire of adults to have peace and quiet doesn’t override the rights of children to play outside. While your lease might state that all tenants have the right to quiet enjoyment, that does not mean that adults get to silence children. A common misconception. Tenants have the right to be free from unusual noise, not noise made by children when playing. Adults can easily put on headphones, or use earplugs, during this time of crisis.
Some parents don’t want their kids to go outside, and keep them indoors. This usually results in downstairs’ neighbors complaining about children playing indoors. Children, likewise, have the right to play and make reasonable noise in their units even if the downstairs neighbor doesn’t like it. One particular court ruled as follows, “A reasonable person must realize that complete emotional tranquility is seldom attainable, and some degree of transitory emotional distress is the natural consequence of living among other people in an urban or suburban environment.”
Children are not second-class citizens. Their rights don’t get eliminated during this crisis. Children are allowed to play during this pandemic. If you have any questions, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me, Craig Fagan, at (800) 572-8365.