The 1988 Amendment of the Federal Fair Housing Act also made it unlawful to discriminate against families with children. In addition to the refusal to rent to people with children, common problems faced by families include:
- Unlawful advertisements that discourage families with children from applying for housing. Ads that make statements such as, “Single Occupancy,” or “Adults Only” are unlawful.
- Unreasonable occupancy standards. In Virginia, roughly 50 square feet per person is the minimum requirement for occupancy and a landlord cannot require that children of different genders sleep in separate rooms.
- Steering families with children to particular areas of the dwelling. For example, a landlord who refuses to rent an upper floor unit to a family with children is not in compliance with the Fair Housing Act.
There is an exception. Property owners can create communities for the elderly. However, the property has to be for the explicit purpose of serving the elderly and a minimum of 80% of the units must be occupied by persons 55 of age and older.
The ability to obtain housing should not be based on the size of a family. This type of discrimination tends to have a disparate impact on single women with children and also on certain ethnic groups. If you are a resident of the Commonwealth of Virginia and feel you have been discriminated against on the basis of familial status, contact Housing Opportunities Made Equal of Virginia at 804-354-0641 or report the suspected discrimination.
Check out HOME’s flyer on familial status discrimination. Available in Spanish (http://bit.ly/2FKdvRj) and English (http://bit.ly/2Hs0ERb)