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Dear Fair Housing Lady,

We love kids at our apartment community and we have great amenities for them – a kiddie pool, a playground and special activities for the younger set.  Heck, we would welcome Octomom and her brood here.  But according to some of my friends and colleagues I need to have my mouth washed out with soap for using bad words, including the ones I used here – “kids” and “kiddie.”  I have even been known to utter that we are a great place for “families” and I have said “children are welcome.”  Are these really fair housing cuss words?  Can we really get in trouble for this using these terms or expressions in our advertising?


Wondering & Worrying

Dear W&W,

Sometimes I struggle to come up with ideas for articles to post, and sometimes the topic just falls right into my lap (plop).  You are not the only one recently to ask me whether it is OK to advertise apartment communities with wording of “families” -“children”- “kids” – “kid friendly” and the like.  (Which, by the way, is so much more positive than “we eat your young.”)  And the answer to that question is (wait for it)…yes!  It is perfectly acceptable (and more importantly, it is fair housing compliant) to advertise in favor of people with children and people with disabilities.  Yet, how can that be, you might ask (or not).  It is acceptable because people without children and people without disabilities have no fair housing protection.  Thus affirmative advertising based on familial status and disability is just fine.  Keep in mind, however, that this is not the case for any of the other federally protected classes.  For example, you cannot advertise in favor of a particular race, because all other races have protection; you cannot advertise in favor of a particular religion, because all religions (and even those who ascribe to no religious beliefs) are protected.  So go ahead and refer to children and kids, and show them in photos.  Affirmatively reach out to those with disabilities and show folks with visible disabilities in your ads as well.  Not only is this acceptable, such outreach on your behalf could help you defend against a claim that you discriminate against people with children or people with disabilities.  And please, do let me know if Octomom moves in.



Fair Housing Lady is the alter-ego of Nadeen Green, Senior Counsel with For Rent Media SolutionsTM.  While that makes her our attorney, she is not yours, so her information is not legal advice for you.  She would love to have your questions for future newsletter appearances (so she doesn’t have to make the questions up, which is just extra work), so send them to [email protected].

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Nadeen Green is the senior legal counsel for For Rent Media Solutions. She has been an attorney and has taught Fair Housing law to the multi-family housing industry for decades, presenting more than 1,150 programs to management companies and apartment associations nationwide, including the National Apartment Association, IREM and AIM. Her reader-friendly articles and guest blogs appear regularly in publications and on websites, and she blogs as Fair Housing Lady at http://fairhousing.forrent.com/. Nadeen lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband, Ned.



  1. I have a question about divulging what crime if any about my property. many of the people I tour with want to know if we have any issues; but they all say they know I can’t because all of the other manager’s said it’s a fair housing issue.
    How can it be a fair housing issue? STill totally confused on that. Crime is not a protected class nor is a criminal; so why is it I am not supposed to inform the person if the community has had bugluraies or car thefts?

  2. Nadeen Green says:

    Erika, you are correct that whether to respond to questions about criminal activity (such as “Is this community safe?” – “Is there a lot of crime here?”) is not at all a fair housing issue. (Unlike, of course, the question of “What kind of people live here?” which is a fair housing issue.) Nonetheless, many industry experts will suggest that a community not get into the “safety issue” with prospects. This is because it can create a liability issue. A leasing person’s idea of “safe” may not be the same as that of a prospect. And just because a leasing person lives on site, this does not necessarily make it “safe”. And often a leasing agent will not be fully aware of all of the crime either at the community or in the neighborhood. So a wise and prudent rule of thumb is to refer the prospect to a resource (online, police department, etc.) that will have a far better handle on the stats so that the prospect can decide for themselves how “safe” they might feel based on the number and type of crimes. This policy offers some measure of protection from the potential liability of a resident moving in, subsequently becoming a crime victim, and then saying “You told me it was safe and now I am suing you.” Hope this helps clarify the issue for you.

  3. I don’t believe it is a fair housing issue but rather a blame issue if something bad happens. Companies are afraid a resident will sue them if they get broken into because the leasing agent stated your community doesn’t have that kind of crime by giving statistics. The resident may say they rented because we made them think crime wont happen in that community. We can’t guarantee nothing will happen to a person or their personal belongings. We can and try to do things like the courtesy patrol or gated communities to try to lessen the chance of something happening but we can’t control everything.

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