Familial Status and Occupancy Standards: Operational Resources

Overview

Families with children are protected under the FHA. The FHA carved out two exemptions for refusing families with children or allowing different treatment of families with children – the two exemptions are senior housing and health and safety concerns (e.g. requiring the supervision of a child at the community pool). When considering policies and best practices, housing providers should ensure that they are not creating rules and policies in such a way that they violate this protected class under the FHA. The white paper below highlights topics to consider when dealing with rules and regulations that cover issues related to familial status.

two moms playing with their son

Reasonable occupancy standards can promote the health and safety of your communities. While being able to establish an occupancy policy that is tied to health and safety needs is valid, arbitrarily enforcing the policy can yield legal liability against the housing provider.

Member Resources

This white paper explains: the legal standard for bringing a claim under the Fair Housing Act (“FHA”) and how courts analyze disparate impact versus disparate treatment claims; details recent case trends in familial status lawsuits pertaining to discriminatory policies against children; and provides an overview of the current state of the law on occupancy restrictions relating to families with children.

This statement of policy advises the public of the factors that HUD will consider when evaluating a housing provider’s occupancy policies to determine whether actions under the provider’s policies may constitute discriminatory conduct under the Fair Housing Act on the basis of familial status (the presence of children in a family).