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Familial Status

Familial Status


The Fair Housing Act added “familial status” as a protected class in 1989 to make sure that families with children aren’t treated differently in housing transactions. Familial Status protections cover households with children, people who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant, single-parent households, and anyone who is in the process of securing legal custody of a person under 18 years of age. This includes a family that is in the process of adopting a child, or foster parents. 

Housing for older persons, such as housing for “55 and older” or “62 and older,” may have a limited exemption from the FHA’s prohibition against familial status discrimination. Certain HUD-administered housing may also restrict occupancy to older persons. Contact CNY Fair Housing for more information. Housing for older persons must still comply with the other provisions of the FHA.


  • Refusing to rent, sell, or negotiate with a family because they have one or more children under 18 years of age like if a landlord states that it is an adult-only residence or refuses to rent to families with children of a certain age, such as young children.

  • Evicting families once a child joins the family through birth, adoption, or a change in custody.

  • Designating certain floors or buildings for families with children or encouraging families with children to reside in particular areas such as trying to keep families with children from renting second-floor apartments. 

  • Imposing overly restrictive rules about children’s use of common areas like pools, hallways, or open spaces. This could include curfews, rules about the placement of toys, or restrictions on children’s use of things like skateboards or bikes.

  • Advertising a preference for households without children or otherwise discouraging such families from applying or renting such as ads that say things like “perfect for single or couple.”

  • Lying to a family about whether a unit is available.

  • Charging additional rent, security deposit, or fees because a household has children under 18 years of age.

  • Forcing families into housing units that are larger than necessary. A landlord can enforce limits based on local building codes but those limits must take into consideration the size and layout of the house as well.


Housing Providers can limit the number of people in a unit when based on the size of the unit. To find out how many people can live in a particular unit, contact your local code's office and ask them about the square footage requirements for different numbers of occupants.  Children under the age of 2 do not count in determining occupancy limits.  Landlords cannot prevent children of different genders from sharing a bedroom.

If you think you have been the victim of housing discrimination because of your familial status, please contact us for assistance.

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