Children and renting an apartment

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Spacers's picture
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Children and renting an apartment

I've been half-heartedly looking for an apartment for about a year or so. Every once in a while I see a listing that looks promising & go take a look. Most aren't nice enough to consider moving, but in the past month, two have been good enough for me to say, "Yes, this could be our new home," and take DH to see it. And he's liked them enough that we fill out an application. Both times we were turned down, and both times we were given very suspicious reasons. One said the other applicant was less risky because they were both employed (this, after agreeing with us that having a SAHP is better for the kids) and the most recent one said they were concerned about liability if our kids got hurt in the backyard (this, after we said the lease should/could/would specify that we accept that responsibility.)

I suspect we lost both of these apartments because we have kids. It's illegal to discriminate against families with children, but we have to disclose them on the application where it asks who will be living in the unit. I have sufficient income & a stable job, we have history of being long-term stable renters, we have glowing references from neighbors, we have strong ties to the neighborhood, we have the money for the deposit. Neither landlord has asked for a credit report, or for permission to run one, but there's nothing negative there except that we don't use credit. So there doesn't seem to be any good reason *not* to rent to us.

None of our friends with kids have encountered this when they've moved. In fact, a couple of our friends said their kids were a bonus because they moved into a building with other families the landlords apparently figured another family wouldn't complain about noise. DH & I were discussing what to do the next time we see something we like. Did we just get unlucky two times? Do we hide the kids? (Anyone know the risk in California of not disclosing minor children to a potential landlord?) Do we take the kids along so the landlord can see how well-behaved they are? Do we just be happy that we aren't giving our money to child-haters? Do we announce up front that we will sue for discrimination if we don't get the next place? Wink

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Well, I strongly believe that the landlord should be able to choose whoever they want to rent their unit to.

We have been landlords several times. Do we discriminate? Of course. When the applicants for a 2 bdrm condo are 3 young guys, or a family with 4 kids, or a single middle age woman with a stable job... There is one obvious choice. Discriminatory, maybe, but my goal is to rent out my property to someone who will pay on time, be long term, and not trash it. My goal isn't to provide everyone with a home.

So, depending on the building, I guess I can see them not wanting kids. Some building are family oriented others are geared for adults.

That said, maybe in the future don't bring the kids with you to look at the house. You have to tell them who will be living there, but maybe not having them present will make it less of an issue.

ETA I don't hate kids. I have 4. The place we currently rent out is a 3 bdrm duplex and our renter is a single mom with 2 kids. It totally just depends on the situation and the general vibe I get from the people (will they take as good a care of my house as I did).

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I do agree that it is the landlord's right, but with that said there are so many people who live in apartments with children. THink of any larger city, everyone lives in apartments/condos and they do have children.

I wish you luck and hope you find something and is a perfect fit for your family!

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Well, i think if i have two stable interested applicants....and one is a two job family and the other is a one job family....i agree that taking the two job family might make more sense. I don't see whats wrong with that. If you need to decide between two sets of applicants, then you have to base it on something.

The liability thing is a little more lame because i think there are ways that someone could protect themselves in that situation. A little more work, but i really wonder how much more work it would be. Yet at the same time....even if you do attempt to protect yourself, that doesn't mean you are nec. successful in doing so, so I can understand still being concerned. Overall though, this crosses more into the 'turning away applicants because they have children' than the first scenario does and I don't like it as much.

If your friends have not had problems though....maybe you really did just get unlucky twice. Hopefully it won't continue one that way. I would not hide the fact that you have kids though going forward....that could really just create bad blood. Deception will never make a landlord feel warm and fuzzy.

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I don't really get the liability thing. As landlords we take insurance out on the property, so that should be covered.

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"kris_w" wrote:

When the applicants for a 2 bdrm condo are 3 young guys, or a family with 4 kids, or a single middle age woman with a stable job... There is one obvious choice. Discriminatory, maybe, but my goal is to rent out my property to someone who will pay on time, be long term, and not trash it.

We've been in our current apartment 10 years, and in our apartment before that for 12 years. We have glowing references from current neighbors & past neighbors. We don't have a reference from our current landlord because we haven't given notice but would when the time is right. I'm a state employee & not subject to furloughs so my income & job are probably more stable than many other applicants.

"KimPossible" wrote:

Well, i think if i have two stable interested applicants....and one is a two job family and the other is a one job family....i agree that taking the two job family might make more sense.

No, the other applicants weren't a family, it was two people who were both employed, no kids. I didn't get the impression they were even a couple. They could be moving in two girlfriends next month, or moving out when their lease is up, or having college parties every weekend.

We haven't been taking the kids with us. If I find a place that sounds decent, I go take a look, and if I like it, then DH goes & takes a look. The only reason they know we have kids is because they ask, either in person or on the application, which is why we're thinking about maybe just not disclosing the kids until we're ready to sign a lease. And then if the landlord says no, we can prove it's discrimination and we have legal recourse to either keep the unit anyway or sue for damages. Which doesn't feel right in a few ways.

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"Spacers" wrote:

we're thinking about maybe just not disclosing the kids until we're ready to sign a lease. And then if the landlord says no, we can prove it's discrimination and we have legal recourse to either keep the unit anyway or sue for damages. Which doesn't feel right in a few ways.

Nah, I'm sure that they could and would (very rightfully) say that they don't want to give you the apartment because if you lied about that on a legal document (rental application) what else have you lied about? I would dissuade you from that course of action. Sounds like a cross between entrapment and fraud (by lying on your signed rental application).

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Landlords absolutely have the right to pick and choose who they are going to rent to. They do not need to disclose to you who else is interested in the property. So really you don't know who was the more qualified applicant and why. They could have chosen the other people because they flat out liked them better. I would also dissuade you from lying on the rental app. That would be thrown out of court in a flash. My aunt is a property manager in NY. She has been sued more times than she can count in the last 25 years. She has yet to lose. The odds are just not in your favor. I would continue to search for a place you like. Next time you find one I owuld bring the kids with you to meet the landlord as you mentioned.

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"Spacers" wrote:

No, the other applicants weren't a family, it was two people who were both employed, no kids. I didn't get the impression they were even a couple. They could be moving in two girlfriends next month, or moving out when their lease is up, or having college parties every weekend.

Well right My point didn't really have anything to do with them being a family or not (i said family...but it doesn't matter if they are family or just roommates or whatever)...my point is i can understand the security in having two incomes vs. one, if i need a deciding factor.

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"KimPossible" wrote:

Well right My point didn't really have anything to do with them being a family or not (i said family...but it doesn't matter if they are family or just roommates or whatever)...my point is i can understand the security in having two incomes vs. one, if i need a deciding factor.

Yes, I meant to comment on this as well. The difference between two incomes vs one may definitely been the deciding factor. Just because they made mebntion that they think A SAHP is better than two working parents doesn't mean that they would prefer that for their tenants. It may be just what they prefer as their personal situation.

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"zefroim" wrote:

Landlords absolutely have the right to pick and choose who they are going to rent to. They do not need to disclose to you who else is interested in the property.

But if they can "pick & choose" then how is it discriminatory to not rent to a family? If it's discriminatory, then they shouldn't be able to "pick & choose" like that. How can it be both ways? And they don't have to disclose who is interested, but they do have to disclose to whom they rented -- if it wasn't me, and if I ask.

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"Spacers" wrote:

But if they can "pick & choose" then how is it discriminatory to not rent to a family? If it's discriminatory, then they shouldn't be able to "pick & choose" like that. How can it be both ways? And they don't have to disclose who is interested, but they do have to disclose to whom they rented if it wasn't me, and if I ask.

Do you know for a fact that don't rent to families? Or did they just not rent to your family? As stated previously, maybe they preferred tenants with two incomes instead of one.

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"zefroim" wrote:

Do you know for a fact that don't rent to families? Or did they just not rent to your family? As stated previously, maybe they preferred tenants with two incomes instead of one.

In one case, there is a family in one of the four units but I don't know if they moved in as a family or had their kids after moving in. In the other case, I know they rented to a single mom (one income, probably?) because they complained that she pulled up the carpets after moving in and now you can hear more noise in the downstairs unit. So who better to rent the lower unit to than another family with small children? Blum 3 I really thought we had the lock on that one, I was so surprised when he called & told me we didn't get it. That's the place with the concerns about the backyard, the upper unit doesn't have access to the backyard.

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I am curious why it matters if their is a two income or one income family. Wouldn't it matter more how much the income is? It seems like one spouse making $100,000/year and the other staying home with the kids would be just as well as two people each making $30,000/year. If you suddenly lost your job you would have unemployment. I agree landlords can rent to whoever they want, I just don't see why it matters if one person says home with the kids as long as the other makes enough to pay the rent.

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I'm not sure how they advertise rentals in the US, but here, in the ad they state no children/pets/smokers/sharers. When it comes to an apartment, I can get why kids might not be allowed. Maybe there's a balcony or the windows aren't the safest.

What annoys me about here though, is people have 2+ bedroom houses for rent but they say no children and no sharers. So who do they expect to rent the house, when they're very overpriced anyway? A single person who can most probably not cover the rent alone? I get why people would prefer no children, but then there are always families wanting rented property so I think it's silly to say no to them.

xx

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"AlyssaEimers" wrote:

I am curious why it matters if their is a two income or one income family. Wouldn't it matter more how much the income is? It seems like one spouse making $100,000/year and the other staying home with the kids would be just as well as two people each making $30,000/year. If you suddenly lost your job you would have unemployment. I agree landlords can rent to whoever they want, I just don't see why it matters if one person says home with the kids as long as the other makes enough to pay the rent.

If you have one income coming in and you lose that income, you go from 100,000 to nothing.

If you have two incomes and you lose one.....you still have another income.

ETA: And you can't collect unemployment if you are fired...and unemployment is temporary. I can see why landlord will rather rely on a second income in case of a job termination....than unemployment.

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"Minx_Kristi" wrote:

I'm not sure how they advertise rentals in the US, but here, in the ad they state no children/pets/smokers/sharers. When it comes to an apartment, I can get why kids might not be allowed. Maybe there's a balcony or the windows aren't the safest.

With only a few exceptions like "senior complexes," or advertising for roommates rather than tenants, it's generally illegal in all parts of the U.S. to not rent to families with children or express in an ad that you won't rent to a family with children. Landlords can discriminate at will against smokers, pets, and roommates, but children are a protected class. As long as the balcony or windows are within code, it's up to the parents to keep their children safe by using the locks or putting up extra security.

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I think as a landlord, they have the right to pick the person they feel is best regardless of what their reasoning behind the decision might be. And they don't have to disclose that information to the applicant. I agree that two incomes are probably viewed as more stable then one income regardless of the amount. It is a tad unfair that they didn't pull your credit record or ask for references before giving your application the boot.

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"Spacers" wrote:

With only a few exceptions like "senior complexes," or advertising for roommates rather than tenants, it's generally illegal in all parts of the U.S. to not rent to families with children or express in an ad that you won't rent to a family with children. Landlords can discriminate at will against smokers, pets, and roommates, but children are a protected class. As long as the balcony or windows are within code, it's up to the parents to keep their children safe by using the locks or putting up extra security.

Yes I think so too. I think your Fair Housing Act says landlords can't discriminate based on familial status, meaning you can't be turned down for an apt. based solely on the fact you have kids. That's all well and good, but trying to prove a landlord has actually discriminated in this way is near impossible.