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
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 Nadeen.Green@ForRent.com.