Sunday, April 3, 2011

Fair Housing Act and Childern in North Carolina

The other day one of my clients called and asked the following QUESTION:

"Can I refuse to rent a North Carolina property to a tenant because they have too many children?"

My insightful ANSWER was:

No. You may limit the maximum number of occupants, but you may not specifically limit the number of children.

Limiting the number of children is a violation of the State Fair Housing Act. It is considered discrimination based on "familial status."

The State Fair Housing Act provides in pertinent part:

§ 41A‐4. Unlawful Discriminatory Housing Practices.

(a) It is an unlawful discriminatory housing practice for any person in a real estate
transaction, because of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, handicapping
condition, or familial status to:
(1) Refuse to engage in a real estate transaction;
(8) Otherwise make unavailable or deny housing.


The Act defines "familial status" at N.C. Gen. Stat. Sec. 41A-3 :

"Familial status" means one or more persons who have not attained the age of 18 years being domiciled with:

a. A parent or another person having legal custody of the person or persons; or
b. The designee of the parent or other person having custody, provided the designee has the written permission of the parent or other person.

The protections against discrimination on the basis of familial status shall apply to any person who is pregnant or is in the process of securing legal custody of any person who has not attained the age of 18 years.


And just in case you were doubting that the act covered rental property, it defines "real estate transaction":

“Real estate transaction” means the sale, exchange, rental, or lease of real
property.


Generally if you are in doubt with respect to Fair Housing Act violations it is better to be safe than sorry. It is always a good idea to consult with someone knowledgeable about the Fair Housing Act.


Norm Praet, Esq.
Helping clients realize goals while minimizing risks.

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