HUD Study, Discrimination Against Families with Children in Rental Housing Markets

Familial status is protected under the Fair Housing Act. The familial status protection applies to households with children under the age of 18, those in the process of adopting a child, and pregnant women.

HUD conducted a pilot study (https://www.huduser.gov/portal/sites/default/files/pdf/HDSFamiliesFinalReport.pdf) comparing the treatment of renters with and without children through over 600 tests conducted in three different cities. The study found no evidence of outright refusal to rent to families with children, and very few differences in treatment overall.

However, the study found evidence of some subtle steering to larger units, an action that may increase costs and limit availability. Occupancy standards that limit occupancy to two persons per bedroom may also affect the opportunities available to families with children if such standards prevent consideration of smaller units that-in light of family composition, room size, or cost-might still be acceptably sized the family’s point of view.

Properties may consider providing increased flexibility regarding unit size and occupancy to further increase the rental housing available to families.

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