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2007-10-15 16:32:00

Legal Q & A: Can A Landlord Establish Rules for Children?

Q.  Is it legal to request that parents supervise their small children when they are playing in the common areas of the apartment community?

A blanket policy requiring children to be supervised in the common areas has been considered restrictive and discriminatory against families with children. It is better to require that an adult supervise children under 14 years of age only when they are in a part of the common area considered hazardous to younger children, such as the pool and spa, or possibly the weight room. You may only impose this type of restriction if the particular situation is wholly related to the health and safety of the child and is reasonable. Otherwise, residents are responsible for the actions of their household members and guests if they are breaking house rules, no matter what the age of the co-tenant or guest.

Q.  We have a sign in our apartment community weight room requiring that anyone under 14 years of age be accompanied by an adult. Does this put any adult in the area under any obligation for the safety of the child?

The only adult responsible for the conduct of the child is the supervising adult who is "accompanying" the child while in the weight room. You may want to modify your signage to include the words "and supervised" to clarify this obligation.

Q.  We want to initiate a new policy in our apartment community against teenagers loitering in the common area past certain late hours. They get loud, and it intimidates other residents walking past them. How would we word this new policy?

Any restrictions of loitering in the common area must be the same for all residents, not just the teenagers. Targeting a class of persons (in this case teens) for discriminatory treatment would lead to a fair housing violation. 

(LegalEase is intended to provide general information and should not be considered legal advice. Please contact the nearest office to discuss the facts of your particular situation. Kimball, Tirey & St. John makes no warranty of any kind, expressed or implied, with regard to this information. Kimball, Tirey & St. John shall not be liable in the event of incidental or consequential damages in connection with, or arising out of, the use of any information herein contained.)

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