How Do You Recognize The Symptoms Of Housing Discrimination Against Families With Minor Children?

Sometimes, it's tough being a parent. Young families often don't have the money to put a large down payment on a house of their own, so they have to find a suitable rental. Finding a rental in a good neighborhood, with decent rates, the right number of beds, a good school system and a kid-friendly neighborhood isn't always easy to do -- especially if you meet with discrimination just because you have children.

What are some of the signs of housing discrimination against families with minor children?

Sometimes, amazingly enough, the discrimination may be as obvious as a rental sign that says, "No Kids" or "Adults Only." Those are often put up by people who don't realize that such discrimination is illegal. Other discrimination can be much more subtle. Be on the alert for probing questions:

  • How many children do you have? 
  • Are your children boys or girls? (Boys may be considered a bigger "problem" than girls because they are viewed as more likely to tear up a property, dig on the grounds, or be generally more destructive while playing.)
  • How many more children are you going to have?
  • Do they all have the same father?
  • Who watches them during the day?

These are inappropriate questions that landlords sometimes ask in order to find out if they think a potential tenant might be a problem. Some landlords have biases against young children, who might be loud, cry easily, color on the walls, or markup wood floors with toy cars. Others may be more biased against teens, especially those of divorced or single mothers, automatically viewing them as potential juvenile delinquents because of the lack of male parental figures in their lives.

How does discrimination against minors show?

Again, the discrimination can be overt or subtle, depending on the mindset of the landlord. A landlord may simply say, "I don't like to rent to people with a lot of young kids because they tear up the wood floors and yard." He or she may reluctantly take and application but be otherwise noncommittal and leave you with the distinct impression you aren't going to be called about the open rental unless the landlord is desperate.

More subtle landlords may just let you glance around the place before steering you back outside, saying, "I don't think this is the right place for your family." There are other signs to look for as well:

  • The landlord suddenly runs out of application forms and tells you that there's been a lot of interest in the place but you can always stop back some other time to pick up the forms -- hoping you'll give up.
  • The landlord suddenly mentions that the place is already promised to someone but says your application will be kept as a backup -- but the rental sign stays up.
  • You're told there will be a higher security deposit or higher rent than discussed on the phone, which the landlord justifies based on the number of bodies in the house.

If you suspect housing discrimination based on minor children, contact your local fair housing organization and consider contacting an attorney, like one from The Law Offices of Douglas F. Fagan, to recover for any losses you've suffered as a result.