Why Children Cannot Play Outside at an Apartment Complex

Over the years I’ve heard one excuse after another as to why children cannot play outside or with toys at apartment complexes. But there is a common excuse that landlords and managers bring up over and over. It’s sort of like a sports team running its favorite play over and over because it works. What is the most common excuse? Safety. To give you an example, in one housing discrimination case that I had in Fresno, a landlord told the tenants that their children could not play in the common areas of the apartment complex for the safety of the children. Granted, the common areas were the only place to play in the apartment complex, but what’s a small detail like that? But isn’t it nice to know that apartment complexes actually care about the safety of the children? To be brutally honest, while many apartment complexes claim that they are concerned about the safety of the children, often what they are more concerned about is a quiet apartment complex, for it is much easier to rent apartments if the complex is quiet. In another housing discrimination case that I had in Los Angeles, an apartment manager threatened to evict my clients if their young daughter did not put her feet inside her apartment. The young lady had been reading a book in her doorway because the landlord forbid children from playing in the common areas. Other children had been threatened because they had been playing their handheld games in their doorways. This apartment complex, not surprisingly, had a rule that required children to be immediately supervised at all times. Why? For the children’s safety, of course. In yet another housing discrimination case in Fresno, a landlord forbid children from using sidewalk chalk in the common areas. You know that dreaded sidewalk chalk: it takes at least 30 seconds to remove it with a hose! When the mother was served a notice because of her daughter having drawn with chalk on the sidewalk, the mother asked why the manager had served the notice. The manager said the chalk drawing was ugly, and she was trying to rent out the apartment next door. Another landlord in Los Angeles not only forbid children from playing in the common areas of the apartment complex, but decided that children should not be able to play on the enclosed patios of their apartments because it made too much noise (and heaven forbid any of those graveyard workers be awakened in the middle of the day!). But then the onsite manager took it one step further and said that children under 14 years of age couldn’t even sit on the patios. When my clients objected to the limitations, the management said that my clients were free to move to another apartment complex that would be more fitting to them. Isn’t that a wonderful solution? Another apartment complex in Fresno had a 10 p.m. curfew . . . for children. While I believe that children should be home by 10 p.m., the law clearly lets parents decide when children must be inside; that’s not the apartment complex’s domain. Another housing discrimination case that I had in San Diego involved an owner who told my client that “I can’t put ‘no kids’ in the advertisements because that would be discrimination, but I ask a lot of questions to make sure it doesn’t happen.” Later, my client took in a baby on an emergency situation. Before long, the owner sent her a notice stating, “You are in clear violation of your lease, specifically paragraph 8 which sets forth the premises you rented is for your use only. In blatant violation of said provision, you have brought into the premises a minor child purporting an emergency guardianship.” In yet another case a landlord in Sacramento refused to rent an upstairs apartment to my clients because they had young children. The landlord’s reason: an upstairs apartment wouldn’t be safe for the children. In San Diego, another family was denied their request to move to an upstairs apartment because they had young children. The manager suggested that maybe it was time for the tenants to get a house so that the kids could run around outside. In conclusion, if your landlord or the manager starts resorting to the safety excuse, then it is probably a safe bet that something is wrong. Don’t put up with such nonsense any longer. Your children deserve to be able to go out and play, particularly during summer. We are here to help make sure no landlord ever subjects your children to ridiculous rules in the name of “safety.”

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