No Children Allowed For Showings

31 Replies

I recently requested a rental application for a 4plex near mine, and on it it read "Adults Only Please" regarding showings.

I can't tell you how much I've always wanted to do this...I mean, you've just spent a boatload on freshening up your unit, and here are some kids running rampant through your place, dragging their hands on your freshly painted walls, banging cabinet doors, etc... It's happened to me plenty...Drives me nutz.

Is it legal to not allow children for showings? I might imagine that even if it is, you'd be discouraging potential tenants.


@Arnie Guida  

Here it is a bit of a grey area.  In general you cannot discriminate against families, but it is - or at least was - possible to have a building designated as adults only.  This was predominately used for seniors apartments and the occasional building for young professionals.

Amanda, I'd rent to you in a second, wouldn't even waste time or money on a background check... ;-)

But your response is what I would expect. You should see this's SO overbearing..

At the end it says, "Our ideal applicant is a working professional. Educated, Career and Goal oriented. Friendly, Quiet helpful and respectful of others."

Ummm, ok...

I think that not allowing children at showings is not discriminatory in any way at all. You are not denying them to live there, just don't want them running crazy while showing the place.

Having said that, I let people bring kids because I think it would discourage some people from looking at the place.

"A working professional" could very well be discriminatory, as it expresses a preference for a particular family structure ( "A" person.)

Not allowing kids at showings may well get you jammed up as well, especially in combination with that other language or other facts that suggest the landlord is hostile to families with children.

Showings are part of the business to negotiate a contract, minors can't contract nor do they carry any legal standing in the business to be conducted, so yes, you can shoot yourself in the foot and say no minors until a lease has been executed.

I found that using runners in the units and saying the carpet was just shampooed and it may be damp is a strong hint to mom and dad to tell the kids to stay on the runners and they do to. If they don't you can politely tell them to keep their tails on the runners. Rooms with tile, you're out of excuses, they may paw the kitchen cabinets.

Preview new homes and you'll see the runner strategy used. Heck, same thing in new RVs too. :)

Not sure if its legal or not, but I actually want the kids there.  I feel that I can get a better gauge on the potential tenants by having their children present.  I also think that it makes it easier for people to look at the place.  If you don't allow them, where you draw the line?  I think it would discourage a lot of folks from looking, just seems to give off a bad vibe.

Originally posted by @Arnie Guida:

Amanda, I'd rent to you in a second, wouldn't even waste time or money on a background check... ;-)

Arnie, this is the second moderately creepy comment I have seen you make to Amanda on these forums in the last 24 hours. We get that you think she is a cute girl, which she is, but pretty sure these forums are for real estate related topics and not a way for old men to flirt with girls young enough to be their daughters...

@Arnie Guida   personally I would not look at a place that mentioned no children during the showing. As a father what would I do with my babies while I am looking at the unit? Leave them unattended in the car? I think by stating no children during the showing you are potentially eliminating a potential pool of applicants, unless that is your desired goal. I know every parent says they keep an eye on their children (yeah right) but then again things happen. 

As for the legality I am not sure.

One thing you overlooked is the kids often select the rental or purchase of a property. When  I decided to get licensed as a broker. I added a property management department.

And through my property manager at lunch one day she referred back to one of my sales meetings about kids and pets often being the deciding factor in property selection when buying. She said that often happens in rentals too. And proceeded to tell me about her latest luxury home rental. The woman's dog was doing the selection, showings were quick and price was no object. Kids approval of a rental was often needed before a decision was made and she paid more attention to both after my sales meeting.

And of course the kids behavior was often the true reason a tenant was denied. Just as a adult can be denied on undesirable behavior so can kids and there is a line where it isn't just kids being kids. Family status was not the issue or the basis. And almost always when those applicants present home was inspected it was a disaster in the pride department.

Refusing to have kids at may be hovering around the gray area and someone may potentially accuse of your of discrimination and you definitely do not want to lend yourself to such exposure.

I prefer to have the kids as showings as it gives me the opportunity to watch the interaction between the parents and the kids.  For instance, if the children are running around, touching things and the parent did not do much to stop them, I will see that as a red flag.  

Also if the prospective tenant's child has a special need that your rental cannot accommodate, you will know upfront rather than signing a lease only to receive a call from a caseworker asking you to build a $1,500 ramp or the family cannot move in because your rental will not pass.  In the meantime, you may have lost your second best prospect.

After experiencing unruly children during showings, including one who had a marker pen and started "drawing" on the kitchen floor, I now use a different approach.

1. If the prospective tenant passes my telephone screening interview and I invite them to view the property, the invitation is open to all who will be occupying the unit.  I welcome the children. 

2. At the property, I start with showing the outside of the unit, introduce myself to the family and connect with the kids. I let everyone know how we are going to proceed and what we need to do to keep the place nice an clean. 

3. When we go inside the unit, I tell children to look with their eyes, not with their hands. If they do start touching things, I ask them to please keep their hands off the walls and the woodwork... so often told to me when I was a child! I watch how the kids are behaving and how the parents are interacting with the child. 

4. If the child acts up, I address the issue with the parent, explaining what I need. Sometimes I ask the parent if it would be okay for me to talk with the child about the situation.  Often parents are fine with that and I get down to the child's level and in a kind way explain what I need them to do. 

Since using this process, I have never had a problem at showings. We even rented successfully to a single mom with a five year old son, who at the showing started off as a running terror. He understands the rules now and I thank him often when I see him behaving well. Keep in mind, not only with children, but with adults too, you need to establish clear expectations and have some flexibility.

I would prefer to have the kids there so I can see what I would be dealing with.

I have had a kid pick up a pen and start drawing all over the top application, so that was a pain. And I've had sticky hand prints on the bottom of the storm door and a sucker dragged on the wall. So yes, kids can cause damage during showings.

Originally posted by @Dawn Anastasi:

I would prefer to have the kids there so I can see what I would be dealing with.

I agree. I like to see how the children are bahaved and how they interact with the parents. I once had a coupel with two kids look at a house. The daughter was about foyur and had taken off her shoes and sat down on the floor against the wall. Her mom told her to put on her shoes and she didn't. The mom then slapped this little girl accross the legs really hard. She didn't even flinch. She already had a high pain tolerance. I wondered what happened to her when there weren't other adults nearby.

Another time, I was shoing a house to a single mom with a horrible kid. He was running all over the house and then tried to stick her keys into an outlet. I told them both to leave.

I'm not sure if it would be discriminating or not, but I think it's better to see what goes on.

Not all kids are bad.  I did have one where it was a single mom and 3 kids. The oldest was like 8 I think.  She had them stand by the front door lined up like little soldiers and wait for her to tour the place and fill out an application.  They did stand there nice, but after maybe 15 minutes, they did slowly start to inch their way into the living room, but always were standing in a line.  

When they got to about the middle of the living room, I called out to the mom that maybe the kids would like to stand by her. She came in the room and let them come in to the kitchen.

I would take @Dawn Anastasi 's premise one step further and say that kids are rarely bad, but frequently bored. When we show our SFH or units in our family oriented buildings, I bring a small childrens' table, colouring books, and crayons and have also brought a video game and, once a soccer ball (fenced back yard).

I frequently bring my son as well, which both sends the message to prospective tenants that we are family oriented and sets the behaviour for the kids colouring and/or playing the game  - kids tend to assume the items belong to my son and will ask him if they can join in the play.

I don't think it's a good idea for clients to bring kids to any showings.  Usually the kids end up running around and the parents are trying to control their kids rather than look at the houses.  Then, once we're finished they forget which houses they liked or didn't like.

When they finally realize to leave the kids home, they have a much better time looking at houses and actually buying one.

Back in the day, I picked the price range, schools and type of neighborhood when I rented.  It was my kids who picked out the actual place.  This made the actual move and adjustment more like an adventure than a traumatic event.