As the years have gone by, more and more landlords in California have come to realize that it is actually illegal to discriminate against families with children. But it does not mean that all landlords have stopped discriminating against families with children. Instead, what it means is that landlords are becoming more subtle about discriminating against children. For example, many landlords who used to have written rules that said things such as, “Children may not ride their bikes or skateboards in the common areas,” have now changed their rules to say, “No one may ride their bikes or skateboards in the common areas.” Are the landlords still trying to accomplish the same goal? Absolutely! But they are not being blatant about it. Why not? Because they don’t want to get in trouble for making statements that indicate limitations or discrimination based on familial status (i.e., against children). But are their modified statements illegal? While their statements do not violate a certain portion of the Fair Housing Act, the statements may violate a different portion of the Fair Housing Act. If you have any questions, please, visit our website at www.sfaganlaw.com.
Five-year old Mellisa was excited. “Let’s go see Grandma!” she shouted to her mother. Mellisa’s grandma had just moved from San Diego into a nearby apartment complex in Sacramento. “Alright, but first brush your teeth.” Melissa quickly ran to the bathroom, brushed her teeth, and then ran back out to the kitchen. “I’m all done, Mommy! Can we go now?” she gleefully asked. “Let’s go,” replied her mother.
Just a few minutes later, they arrived at Grandma’s new apartment complex and headed to her unit. Once there, Grandma welcomed them into her apartment, but quickly told young Melissa, “You have to be real quite at Grandma’s house; otherwise, they might kick me out.”
Grandma’s news scared Mellisa. And, in childlike manner, she replied, “Okay, Grandma, I’ll be real quite.”
Melissa’s intentions were well, but before long she was out on Grandma’s patio playing with her dolls and singing. Inside, her grandma and her mother were busy talking. And then the doorbell rang.
“Yes,” Grandma asked the gentleman at the door.
“Mrs. Smith, if your grandchild does not quite down, then I am going to have to give you a written warning. You know the rules, children are not allowed to play outside and they may not be loud.”
“Oh, I’m so sorry, sir. I’ll talk to my granddaughter and have her come inside. It won’t happen again.”
With that, the gentleman left and Grandma went to her patio and asked Melissa to come inside. “How come, Grandma?” she passively asked.
“Kids aren’t allowed to play here, Mellisa, so you’ll have to come inside.” Dejectedly, Melissa picked up her dolls and headed inside. Before long, Melissa and her mother headed home.
Over the next few weeks, this same scenario played out several more times. Finally, Melissa got to the point where she didn’t want to go her Grandma’s house anymore, for she felt very uncomfortable. Even her mother felt awkward about going to see her own mother, so they started avoiding trips to Grandma’s house and, instead, began inviting Grandma over to their house. While Grandma didn’t really like to drive, she would make the trip occasionally for Mellisa’s and her daughter’s sake, but she really would have preferred to have them visit. But she understood how management had made her family feel unwelcome. She realized that she was just a tenant and presumed that she had no real rights as a tenant, even though she felt as though they were discriminating against families with children (or grandchildren, in her case).
Whether Grandma knew it or not, she was the victim of unlawful discrimination and had the right to do something about it. If you or your grandparents face this type of discrimination in California, then, please, contact us at sfaganlaw.com, or at (858) 220-9601 and we’ll let you know how we may be able to help you.