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Familial Status and Quiet Enjoyment

This article directed towards tenants with children should be interesting to landlords for a couple of reasons.

First, it provides a pretty nice overview of how otherwise well meaning landlords can end up running afoul of fair housing laws when dealing with children. Landlords need to always remember that familial status is a federally protected class. So what does that mean?

It means you cannot deny an applicant a property because they have children. Most landlords get this one.

But it also means that you cannot steer applicants to certain apartments or properties, say with more bedrooms or on the first floor. And here is where many landlords get tripped up. Not because they are trying to discriminate but because they are trying to be helpful. They think that another bedroom or more space might be needed and only discuss certain apartments. Or they believe, like the article states, that they are helping other tenants by only showing first floor apartments so there are less feet tromping around.

To avoid discrimination issues, landlords should tell applicants about all available properties and let THEM decide what is best for their needs. Do not do any thinking for them, no matter how helpful you may think it might be.

Secondly, the article discusses a clause that is in almost all of our leases, the right to quiet enjoyment. Perhaps you assumed, like many others, what that clause means. According to Black’s Law Dictionary quiet enjoyment means that there is no outside interference with an activity. An activity could be something such as renting an apartment. Thus, that term outside interference applies to you, the landlord. It does not, as the article points out, mean tenants have the right to absolute quiet. Rather, they have the right to be left alone in their home without interference from the landlord. Thus as the article again points out, kids playing in the courtyard in the afternoon, while perhaps loud, is a normal activity and does not violate the rights of other tenants.. Could get tricky I know, but understanding the term and being able to explain it to your tenants could help.

Comments
One Response to “Familial Status and Quiet Enjoyment”
  1. Good article! Fortunately, I’ve never had any problems regarding discrimination against families with children. But I can sure see how a landlord could easily slip up just by trying to be helpful. And I found the point the author made about Seniors Only facilities interesting.

    Thanks,

    George Lambert
    Author, What You Must Know BEFORE Becoming a Greedy Landlord. How to build a portfolio of investment properties for an income that lasts a lifetime.

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