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Can You Have Rules Dealing With Children?

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In 1988, Congress added “familial status” – defined as including those family groups with children under 18 – to the list of protected groups under the Fair Housing Act. Since that time, condominium and homeowner associations have been discovering that their various rules regulating or prohibiting the use of the association’s facilities by those under 18 years of age may be prohibited by federal law. Rules once considered common and reasonable in the early 1980s, that is, rules which employ a specific age to regulate minor residents’ use of the pool, gym, or other areas, could, after the passage of this federal law, result in legal action against the association on behalf of owners with children under 18. These housing associations have had to re-write such rules, regulations, or provisions in the governing documents, to specifically address this concern.

However, Congress also carved out an exception with the Housing for Older Persons Act by creating an exemption for housing facilities, where at least 80% of the occupied units were occupied by at least one person 55 years of age or older (among other criteria). Currently, any properly created 55+ community may impose restrictions on residents under 18, as long as those rules do not violate any other law. If you are not a Housing for Older Persons Community, you should have your attorney review your governing documents and rules and regulations for any restrictions, including those involving restrictions on use of the property by those under the age of 18, which could result in liability to the association.

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