Landlords Can't Dictate Where Kids Sleep

By Deanne Katz, Esq. on February 26, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Does your landlord have a say in whether you have kids? Or your kids' sleeping arrangements? Or whether kids can live in your apartment?

Happily for families, the answers to all these questions are no. That may not stop some landlords from sticking their noses where they don't belong, but it's nice to know that when push comes to shove, the law is on your side.

But what law exactly is that? And how much does it protect you? Those are good questions and luckily for you, we've got your answers.

Laws that require fairness in housing generally come from the appropriately-named Fair Housing Act. It's a federal law that deals with discrimination in housing.

The FHA prohibits discrimination in a variety of categories. That includes race, disability, and, most importantly if you have children, family status.

Legally family status covers whether you're single or married, have kids or not, and whether you live with multiple generations, like parents, grandparents, and kids in one home.

Landlords can't make any rules that limit housing options for families with children which means they can't dictate your kids' sleeping arrangements.

If you want to put two children in one bedroom, that's your business. A landlord can't tell you how to live in the apartment once you're renting it.

What a landlord can dictate is how you use the space after you've signed the lease. Effectively, that means for most people that you can't use your apartment to run a business, such as shop or a bed and breakfast. You also can't do anything that would damage the property beyond the normal wear and tear. But if you're using it as a home, generally, you set the rules.

These protections also apply when you're looking for an apartment. Landlords shouldn't ask whether you have, or plan to have, children when you look at a place.

They also can't discriminate against you just because you have children. That can be hard to prove but, with a little legal help, you may be able to.

Sadly, the law can't help you if your children scream at each other, don't pick up their toys, or refuse to eat broccoli. That's your problem.

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