Fair Housing for Families with Children
When people are denied housing, mortgages, or insurance because they have kids, it’s not just a personal insult. It also makes our neighborhoods less diverse and welcoming, and it can force families into housing that may not meet their needs. The Fair Housing Act and other laws protect people from discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, sex (including sexual orientation, gender identity), national origin, familial status, and disability. Discrimination is illegal in all housing transactions, including rental, sales, lending, and insurance.
Familial status includes foster families, grandparents raising children, pregnant women, persons in the process of securing legal custody, and other familial situations involving one or more individuals under age 18. This includes those who live with a parent or other person with legal custody, as well as the designee of a parent or other person with custody, provided there is written permission.
What are some signs of possible discrimination?
- Refusal to rent or sell to a family because of the presence of children under age 18 or pregnancy
- Denying families or children access to recreational facilities
- Imposing unreasonable rules because children are present, or imposing rules specifically on children
- Charging an extra fee per child or higher rent/deposit because of the presence of a child
- Placing a limit on the number of children within the home
- Charging rent per bedroom in a single family home
- Imposing different standards based on children’s ages
- Restricting families with children to certain floors or areas of a complex
Exemption: Housing for older persons is exempt from the prohibition against familial status discrimination if:
- The HUD Secretary has determined that it is specifically designed for and occupied by elderly persons under a Federal, State or local government program or
- It is occupied solely by persons who are 62 or older or
- It houses at least one person who is 55 or older in at least 80 percent of the occupied units, and adheres to a policy that demonstrates an intent to house persons who are 55 or older.
For more in-depth information about fair housing rights of families with children, please review the resources listed below:
- Federal Guidance (1992) - Requirements Concerning Lead Based Paint and the Fair Housing Act
- Fair Housing Center Brochure (2022) - Providing Fair and Lead-Safe Housing
- El Centro de Vividenda Justa folleto (2022) - Proveyendo vivienda justa y a salvo de plomo
- HUD Policy (December 22, 1998) - Fair Housing Enforcement Occupancy Standards; Statement of Policy (Keating Memo)
- Fair Housing Center Fact Sheet (2022) - Fair Housing & Occupancy Standards
- Hoja Informativa (2022) - Estándares de Vivienda Justa y de Ocupación
- Fair Housing Center Guidebook (2022) - A Guide for Determining Occupancy Limits based on Local Restrictions
- Guía (2022) - Para determinar los límites de ocupación conforme a las restricciones locales
Do you think you or someone you know may have experienced housing discrimination?
If you or someone you know has experienced one or more of these possible signs of discrimination, please report it. When people are denied housing, mortgages, or insurance because of discrimination, it's not just illegal or just a personal insult. It also makes our neighborhoods less diverse and welcoming, and it can force people into housing that may not meet their needs. We do our best to ensure that illegal discrimination does not stop anyone from living in the housing of their choice; however, we can't do it alone. We need your help to end housing discrimination.
How can I learn more about fair housing?
- Attend a community fair housing event, such as the Fair Housing Luncheon & Workshop Series
- Learn about opportunities to bring fair housing education into your child's/children's classroom: