Skip to comments.Renters with children find bias still exists
Posted on 11/26/2011 6:24:37 AM PST by 1010RD
Alan S. Mills said apartment-to-rent newspaper ads stating that families with children were not welcome were common when he began practicing law 30 years ago.
Local, state and federal laws now prohibit discrimination based on familial status, Mills said.
But Mills, the legal director of the Uptown People's Law Center, said the situation has not changed much.
"Individual landlords still regularly turn down tenants because, they say, 'We don't want children in the building,'" Mills said.
Professor F. Willis Caruso, the co-executive director of The John Marshall Law School Fair Housing Legal Support Center, made the same contention.
Caruso said the center receives a good number of complaints from current or would-be renters or buyers who claim they were the target of discrimination because they have minor children.
Some people turn to government agencies with their claim that a property owner based a sales or rental decision on familial status in violation of the Chicago Fair Housing Ordinance, the Illinois Human Rights Act or the federal Fair Housing Act (FHA).
Allegations that a property owner discriminated on the basis of familial status generally come in third after allegations of housing bias on the basis of race or disability, according to entities that include the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR).
For example, IDHR filed charges in 347 housing cases in the year ending Sept. 30, 2010.
Of those charges, 40 percent included race as a basis for discrimination, 39 percent included disability and 11 percent included familial status.
Mills said only a handful of cases involving allegations of housing discrimination based on familial status end up going to trial.
Property owners who are confronted with evidence that they violated laws barring such discrimination tend to settle out of court, Mills said.
A suit filed in federal court in Chicago on behalf of two single mothers may be among the cases that go to trial.
The suit alleges that the owner of the Greenwillow apartment complex in Glenview is violating the Human Rights Act and the FHA.
The suit alleges that Elisabeth Manly often scolds children who play in the yards, falsely accuses them of causing property damage and throws their toys away.
Manly also has verbally abused plaintiffs Alicia Ann Tyrrell and Toni J. Dini and threatened to evict them and their respective children, the suit alleges
And the suit alleges that Manly discouraged "testers" who claimed they had children from renting at Greenwillow while welcoming others who claimed they were childless.
But Manly contends that she is the victim.
Manly contends that the children routinely trample on bushes, deface the sidewalk, make excessive noise and ring tenants' doorbells and run away.
Manly also contends that Tyrrell herself has created problems by repeatedly refusing to allow Manly to enter her unit to conduct maintenance and by once blocking the front door of the next-door unit while Manly was showing it to a prospective tenant.
And Manly says the fact that she rented units to Tyrrell and Dini as well as to other tenants with children and recently renewed Dini's lease is evidence that she does not discriminate on the basis of familial status.
U.S. District Judge Samuel Der-Yeghiayan earlier this week declined to issue a temporary restraining order that would have allowed Tyrrell to renew her lease when it expires on Nov. 30.
At a hearing on the matter, Der-Yeghiayan said he takes housing discrimination seriously.
But Der-Yeghiayan said Tyrrell failed to meet requirements for the issuance of a temporary restraining order.
The case is Alicia Ann Tyrrell, et al. v. Elisabeth Manly. No. 11 C 8207.
Attorneys representing Tyrrell and Dini include Elizabeth Shuman-Moore and Jessica A. Schneider, both of the Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law Inc.
Also representing Tyrrell and Dini are William S. Weltman and Max A. Stein, both of Reed, Smith LLP.
Weltman and Stein are handling the case on a pro bono basis.
Manly is represented by Northbrook attorney Jeffrey R. Rosenberg of O'Halloran, Kosoff, Geitner & Cook LLC.
Legal experts say people often are unaware of laws forbidding housing discrimination on the basis of familial status.
A 2002 report prepared by The Urban Institute for HUD says only 38 percent of the members of the public who were randomly surveyed knew that the FHA prohibits treating households with children differently than households without them.
Mills, who emphasized that he was not speaking about a specific case, said many landlords also are unaware of their legal obligation not to discriminate against people with children.
But Mills said there is no basis at least, not in Chicago for such ignorance about the law
Mills said Chicago officials offer landlords free training concerning the law's requirements.
"So there's no excuse for a landlord who wants to do right not to do so," he said.
What we see in these "bias" cases is the exercise of power by a tyrannical government, trampling on the rights of property owners.
If I owned a duplex, and lived in one unit, I would not rent to anyone with kids, especially teenage kids. I can't believe it would against the law to put conditions on applicants. I have seen renters absolutely refuse to rent to smokers. How about not wanting a drunk or a druggie as a renter?
The previous occupants of my home were two parents with five children. Except for the writings on the walls, you would think they were five monkeys.
They were noisy, destructive, rude people, according to the neighbors and the remaining evidence.
The fault lies with the parents.
That said, it’s risky to rent to anyone these days. Too many laws favoring the unscrupulous.
I forgot about not renting to people with pets.
What comes to mind is first we would have parents who might teach their kids to be more respectful.
Second, where there is a market there will be demand and where their is demand their will be supply. Translated, we will have some landlords who would see a market to rent to families with children and provide rental units geared for them. Use of various noise reductions, play areas, day care center, storage etc could be apartments made to cater to families with children. In short, the needs of families with children could become more focused and lead to kid friendly places.
“Spoiled Children” are hard on the parents, family, extended family, neighbors, rental or owned property, surrounding real estate, local businesses, churches, play grounds, schools, spouses, ex-spouses, in-laws, and police departments..
“Spoiled children” are almost always “ruined”..
Its the parents “fault” the children didn’t ruin themselves..
This should be (”explained”) to parents ruining their children..
“Spoiled Children” is not a PC term... and should be used at every opportunity..
No landlord with an ounce of brains would say that. You do what you have to do to select tenants but say nothing.
I will rent to a family. No problem. But not any family. When I am showing a rental, I make sure the whole family is there. I watch how the kids react to the parents. I look to see if the kids are well groomed. I see how they behave. I also take the opportunity to look inside the family car. They will pretty much take care of my rental about the same as the take care of the inside of their car.
More and more apartment complexes are becomming more lenient in allowing pets. However, most of them also tack on an additional rental fee.
I lived in an apartment for almost 23 years and it went from "no pets allowed" to "pets welcome" - for an additional $25 per month.
This is not correct. This merely furthers the problem that creates out-of-control children. It is true that many spoiled children are spoiled because we have a society that believes that children are not responsible for their own actions.
We blame the parents, we blame the schools, we blame the police, we blame anyone but the kids. We give the kids excuses while telling them they are the greatest little snowflakes that God ever created. That is one of the reasons our kids are protesting. They are waking up to the fact that the world just doesn't agree with them that they are great and wonderful and should have everything they want.
We created spoiled children by telling them its anyone and everyone's fault that they cannot have what they want when they want it. We have to stop telling them its their parents fault, or its their teachers fault or its the governments fault. If we don't the occupy folks will just be the leading edge of a generation that cannot take personal responsibility.
But I would be seriously reluctant to rent to a family with a single parent unless I knew them well, since these are often unstable situations.
I’m waiting for a grocery store to implement a “no children” day. I’d love to go shopping without having to dodge children or the huge messes they make in the aisles. Some parents let the kids run wild with the shopping carts. Numerous times I’ve had my cart hit by these little tykes. When a parent gives me a dirty look for speaking to their little angel in a stern voice I just tell them, “If you would control your child I wouldn’t have to do it for you.” One “lady” got very irate when I referred to her little darlings as barbarians (I purposely avoided using savage). She accused me of being racist. I told her barbarians come in all shades.
In 1988, I was based in Charlotte, NC and needed to rent an apartment. I found a great, safe place that I could afford and went in to sigh the rental agreement. I was given a document to read and sign that stated if I understood that I could not have children while living there. If I got pregnant and had a baby, I would have to move out I think it was 6 months after the birth. I asked if the father also lived in the complex, would he also have have to move out. The apartment manager laughed and said no. I was in a very tough spot and had absolutely no choice but to sign the document. It was changed within a year of my move and children were allowed. I certainly had no plans of getting pregnant but it was tough to sign. I didn’t complain as I had bigger things going on but today, I would pursue something this discriminatory. It is still today one of the worst feelings, having to sign that document. I can’t explain it. I was so sad and angry but at the same time I felt someone’s foot on my neck so far as being sure I didn’t get pregnant. (I didn’t have a boyfriend at the time and certainly wasn’t promiscuous but that is beside the point. At least half the tenants were women.)
I wonder how many women were affected by this as it had been in effect long before I moved in.
Fascinating and I’m sorry about how it made you feel, but isn’t that the point. We are against discrimination because of how it makes people feel. Is that a matter for the law or morals?
I see exactly what you mean and that clause would infuriate me as well. Were there any alternative rentals? What was the harm, i.e. you weren’t pregnant and didn’t plan on being so who had standing?
You clearly were in conflict between the owners property rights and those rights which are inherent to your status as a woman. Only women can get pregnant so is it wrong to distinguish between the mother and the father of the child? I’m not trying to rub salt in the wound, but just curious about the idea. What should we do when rights collide?
The Left/communists side with the class that appears least powerful and against Natural Law. Does that provide for the best outcomes or not?
So they’ve moved with the market. This proves that the market works or did your locality pass a law forcing them to accept pets?
[ This is not correct. ]
It is too correct... once spoiled a child becomes a spoiled adult.. someone marrys and then ultimately divorces them.. and/or performs many other dysfunctions..
Once spoiled... then the child/adult becomes responsible for themselves..
And usually a spoiled adult will raise spoiled children..
The “CYCLE” begins... becomes a “curse” on “that” family.. for generations..
Dr. Spock(of the sixtys) didn’t solve problems he created them where there were none.. His concepts were a disease that infected a whole generation.. Learn to identify this disease.. Some of the people you know have it.. Maybe your spouse.., If he/she refuses to punish..
Most rental problems come from female head of household families - gangs, drugs, misbehavior. So your response is logical, but the law says you are wrong and the penalties are severe.
You are absolutely correct. My children never misbehave in public and a mild verbal correction is all it takes to get them back on target if they do get too boisterous, but that takes good parenting.
But, to clarify, I would not move into a place with children. See the reasons stated above.
And, I will never buy a condo. You have no control over your neighbors nor their spawn.
I remember about 40 years ago a new building was built at #33 K st. N.W. Washington DC.
The building was to be for older people who needed housing and children were not to be allowed there.
Well it opened and sure enough before long Grandaughters moved in with Grandma and brought her kids along. Before long the trash chutes were being set afire, the light bulbs started disappearing in the halls ( people were stealing them to put them in their apartments),someone started peeing on the elevator buttons and in the stairwells< It was at least once a week getting people out of the elevators who were trapped there.
In one case a kid was killed while riding atop the elevator and using the manual elevator controls there to scare the old folks, He got caught between the elevator and the counter weight. After ten years the place needed rebuilding.
After 3 rebuilds they have torn it down. You wonder whay landlords don’t want kids?
Speaking of inappropriate occurrences, I was affected by a situation involving a 1982 Firebird. The dealer contacted me with the offer of replacing a mechanical component free of charge as long as a male drove the car in. I, too, had a lot going on at that time and had no time for dating. Needless to say, no replacement.
I agree with what you wrote. It is hard to explain but it was like someone was shaking their finger in my 21 year old face telling me not to get pregnant. It just felt wrong. I thought it might be illegal but I was up against a corporation and their lawyers so who was I to question.
And after looking for several weeks for a safe, convenient, affordable place, this was the only place we could move. I was earning about $13,000 as a new hire flight attendant and I think the place was $750 a month to be divided between me and and roommate.
Now, I feel the landlord should have the right to choose their tenants. I do think that situation could have been handled better with mothers and mothers-to-be. The apartment complex had other family friendly properties could have steered the families there. There could have been a strict noise rule and a very large deposit which would deter many single parents.
A few years ago, hubby and I had considered buying rentals but this situation has come up with children running amok and single mothers and we decided against it. I absolutely think that a property owner should have the right to decide who will be the renter.
Children damage the heck out of property, so if the parents don’t mind leaving a deposit of a couple of thousand extra to cover all the damage when they go there should be no issue.
If you have to replace carpet, fix and paint damaged walls after the kids are gone is it discrimination to have a good enough deposit to cover that? I think not.
Same think for new 18 year old types with money but no life experiance. Usually the time they move in is the last time that place will have an attempt at being cleaned till they move out. If they have pets there will be major carpet replacement. That’s the way it goes.
Or at least No Children Hours....like after 8pm or something? Which USED to be the norm.
Not sure what to make of your post so I will just quote George Costanza.
“Well, the jerk store called, and they are running out of you.”
I rent to families with children, but I have a clause in the lease that allows me to beat them.
I like the stores that have the sign that says,
‘Unaccompanied children will be given an espresso and a free puppy.’
No laws, just common sense renting.....
Nowadays in NJ it seems a lot of the most recent constructions are condos; whole towns have no interest in strangling their homeowners with the costs of schools (our teachers unions are infamous for the costs they burden us with), so they build the least-family friendly housing possible. Even though I have a family, I completely understand the position they’re in.
We flat out refused to rent to people with children. Why?
Answer: Lead based paint! And....We simply did not know the building history of the building. Was there asbestos in the plaster? Mercury anywhere? Had there been any chemical dumps in the backyard? There very likely was lead in the soil around the house. Gee! If the White House has soil contaminated with lead based paint, chances are that our house had a similar problem.
They will pretty much take care of my rental about the same as the take care of the inside of their car.
If you lived in one unit of a duplex you owned, you are exempt from anti-discrimination laws. This is also true for a four-plex.
It was hard on my elderly landlady who lived downstairs when our baby began to run around. We tried to have rugs and keep quiet hours, but still...
OTOH, it was hard on me when she cooked asparagus soup and broccoli casserole for hours...when I was pregnant...and the odors came up through the floor and mingled with her cigarette smoke.
Units that are rented to people with kids normally have a lot more to fix once they move out.They spill stuff ruining carpets they write on walls they take chunks out of the exposed corners when running with toys,I know many people who have silt larger homes into one bedroom units to avoid having to take more than one child.
Not sure what to make of your post so I will just quote George Costanza.
Well, the jerk store called, and they are running out of you.
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
Actually the post makes a lot of sense. (Whether the circumstance was right or wrong).
It wasn’t all that long ago that the ‘lady of the house’ couldn’t sign for a driveway being resurfaced, plumbing work, buying insurance etc etc....the statement was “I will come back when your husband is home and you BOTH can sign the contract”. - Before you say it - if ONLY the husband signed the contract, business would continue.
And I am talking of the 70/80/90’s era.
Of course that ‘policy’ changed when hubby started saying ‘Hey, she is paying for it, I am not signing’, then the common sense thing to do was go with the flow and adjust to situations - or go out of business.
Which is the same tack they should have used with smoking in public places. If the business starts losing a lot of money because they allow smoking, they will change on their own rather than shut the door....common sense....
Ok. I see your point. But I think it was HUD that stepped into the picture and made them stop presenting the document for signature. When we went to renew our lease a year after I signed the ‘no children’ agreement, that document was gone.
And sorry to be testy. I got no sleep last night and still feel terrible.
In my state there are regular visits to renting apartments by government monitors who will take one to court over discrimination. One must tread very carefully.
If you lived in one unit of a duplex you owned, you are exempt from anti-discrimination laws. This is also true for a four-plex.
That isnt true in my state.
Similar situation although I hesitate to hijack the thread (again): when husband v.1.0 departed, I called the phone company to get the phone bill responsibility assigned to me. They said they couldn’t do it. My natural conclusion was, “So I don’t have to pay the phone bill because you’ll go after him, heh heh heh.” After a hurried conference with her supervisor, they made the change.
Are any landlords exempt from the housing anti-discrimination law?
The following landlords are exempt from the law:
an owner-occupied 2-family dwelling;
Only if you don’t want to be someone’s test case. Realize that Maine is filled with many many lawyers at all levels of government who are trying to stay relevent. A lawsuit to change laws and make them more open and more inclusive will hurt you bad. And it happens.
The Maine law clearly states that if an owner occupies one half of a duplex, the anti-discrimination law does not apply. Not even a liberal lawyer would go after the owner in such a case.
Mrs. OldPossum and I have a second home in another state. At one time we thought about renting it out for a year but changed our minds when a friend who was knowledgeable about the rental business cautioned us that children would severely damage our place.
I just read your page about censorship and you’re spot on. A friend of mine, very successful in business consulting, worked on Prop 8 in CA. When the names of those working for it we published (thanks to a liberal judge or should I say illiberal), his was on it and he was the target of a vicious campaign to smear his name and get him fired.
Tolerance is a one way street with liberals.