Equal Housing rights are guaranteed to families with children. Discrimination against families with children is illegal in every state in the nation. The 1988 Federal Fair Housing Act and the Montana Human Rights Act prohibit housing discrimination against families with children under the age of 18. Families cannot be denied the housing of their choice simply because they have children.
The Law Protects:
- established families with children
- persons planning on having a family
- pregnant women
- traditional and non-traditional families, such as single parent families
- persons in the process of securing legal custody of children through foster care, adoption, or divorce
- unique or unexpected circumstances which may change the composition of a family, such as the death of the parents, temporary or permanent court ordered custody, or written permission from a parent or legal guardian.
What are the Other Protected Classes in Housing?
Housing discrimination is also prohibited on the basis of Race, Color, National Origin, Religion, Creed, Physical or Mental Disability, Gender (including Sexual Harassment), Marital Status and Age.
How to Recognize Housing Discrimination
Landlords, property managers, or real estate agents generally will not directly state, "we don't accept children" or " there are no kids allowed." Discrimination against families with children is subtle.
The agent may simply refuse to rent to families or tell them the housing is not available when it is. They may refuse to sell, rent or even deal with a person because they have children or they may advertise or indicate the housing is available for only certain people (adults only).
What are Some Frequently Used Policies that Discriminate Against Families with Children?
There may be attempts to discourage families by changing the terms, conditions, services and facilities. For example, different rules, charging additional fees, or applying more burdensome rental criteria, larger deposits, increased water charges, or higher rent based on the number of people or children in a family.
There may be attempts to impose occupancy standards that prevent children from residing in a development or steer families with children away from adult only areas. All of these practices are illegal. These practices promote segregation and disrupt the housing market.
You Should Suspect Unlawful Housing Discrimination if You Hear Statements Like:
- The building is not safe for children.
- We take younger children, but teenagers will disturb the other tenants.
- Sure, we rent to families with kids, but we'll need an extra security deposit.
- Yes, we'll allow children but we'll have to charge more rent for each kid.
- Only 3 people are allowed in a 2 bedroom apartment.
- Children are only allowed in the basement and first floor units.
- My insurance company won't let me rent second and third floor units to anyone with small children, your children are just too young.
- Our kids building (or family section) is full.
- This complex isn't suitable for children, there is no playground or open space for them to play.
- There are no children here, your children won't have anyone to play with.
- Sorry a parent and child cannot share a bedroom.
When Applying and Qualifying for Housing, What's Important is Your Credit History, References and Your Ability to Pay
If you don't report housing discrimination it can't be stopped. Retaliation, harassment, intimidation or interfering with a person who is exercising their rights to equal housing is against the law.
Montana Department of Labor & Industry
Human Rights Bureau
PO Box 1728
Helena MT 59624-1728
U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development
Denver Regional Office
First Interstate Tower North
633 17th Street
Denver CO 80202-3607