Fair Housing and Babies

14 Replies

Hello all,

   I just got a call from the manager of my 52-unit complex.  A tenant has a 3 y/o child who has been wandering the complex unattended.    The child has been turning off the main water for one of the buildings.  Also, he has been gone into our main parking lot!   The tenant claims that their 11 y/o daughter was supervising the baby.

   What sort of notice can I give these people?  Per federal Fair Housing guidelines, you cannot have rules that are different for children than for adults - that would be discrimination.

   About all I can think of is a "waste & nuisance" 3day for turning the water off.

Personally I would send them a notice telling them there child has been causing damage by altering systems impacting the tenants . I would out them on notice that any further damage would be at their expensive. honestly you would not accept that from an adult or a child. So I would write up the letter the same way you would for an adult and just send it to the parents! Your not discriminating but not allowing them to renew. You are simply enforcing your "do not damage my property" rules!

Originally posted by @Jerome Kaidor :

Hello all,

   I just got a call from the manager of my 52-unit complex.  A tenant has a 3 y/o child who has been wandering the complex unattended.    The child has been turning off the main water for one of the buildings.  Also, he has been gone into our main parking lot!   The tenant claims that their 11 y/o daughter was supervising the baby.

   What sort of notice can I give these people?  Per federal Fair Housing guidelines, you cannot have rules that are different for children than for adults - that would be discrimination.

   About all I can think of is a "waste & nuisance" 3day for turning the water off.

 What's your concern?  Let's say on day 2 the kid gets run over and killed in the parking lot. and the family produces your letter that you had knowledge of their child being unattended and YOU"RE concerned about turning the water back ON!!

Use some sense and call the police and child protective services NOW.  You also should have an attorney have an educational talk with your "manager".

Originally posted by @Bob Bowling:
Originally posted by @Jerome Kaidor:

Hello all,

   I just got a call from the manager of my 52-unit complex.  A tenant has a 3 y/o child who has been wandering the complex unattended.    The child has been turning off the main water for one of the buildings.  Also, he has been gone into our main parking lot!   The tenant claims that their 11 y/o daughter was supervising the baby.

   What sort of notice can I give these people?  Per federal Fair Housing guidelines, you cannot have rules that are different for children than for adults - that would be discrimination.

   About all I can think of is a "waste & nuisance" 3day for turning the water off.

 What's your concern?  Let's say on day 2 the kid gets run over and killed in the parking lot. and the family produces your letter that you had knowledge of their child being unattended and YOU"RE concerned about turning the water back ON!!

Use some sense and call the police and child protective services NOW.  

This was my initial reaction as well. I feel it's your/your managers duty to call the police and CPS next time the child is unattended. I'm less concerned about liability and more about "doing the right thing" here.  

If this is a multiple time event,  a good tactic for this is calling the police and not running around to find the parent when you find the child wandering. Note that you can also call CPS  directly and complain  even just to say it is occurring, it does not need to be occurring at that moment and the more complaints the more likely they are to investigate (they do not investigate every complaint).  You can call,  your PM can call,  and any of the concerned residents.   For your water shutoff not sure if you could put a cage around it that is difficult for a child to remove but still ok for an adult in an emergency.

You can have rules for safety  that is not against fair housing and unattended children under a certain age by a pool or in a parking lot could be one of them......

I think this is something that SHOULD not wait for the NEXT time or MULTIPLE events.  Is 11 years old OK to be left alone much less in charge of a 3 year old?  I would not leave my dog with an 11 year old.  Just call the police and tell them what happened.  THEY can make the call then of the appropriate response.  I bet it will be a quick visit to the parents about proper care of BOTH children.  

Give this tenant a written lease violation. Adults are responsible for children. You would not be discriminating against kids or age because all of your rules for the property apply to all ages. Its the very same if you had a building with hallways- children AND adults should not be running down hallways or riding bikes in the building, etc. As long as you do not target the persons, but rather the BEHAVIOR, this is fine. No one should be messing with water shutoffs- children OR adults.

I would also try to restrict access to any mechanical areas like this to avoid any further problems. Like some of the above posters said, if the young child is wandering by him or herself, a call to CPS or police is justified as well as you (like any decent human being) would be concerned with this child's welfare.

Document the tenant files and use lease violations as means to evict if necessary. Of course if you want them to move and you let them know you can let them out of their lease early (which works better for all parties), hopefully they will move quickly and you can re-rent faster than waiting for the whole eviction proceedings and further damage from retaliation if it gets ugly.

I agree with @Bob Bowling. An 11 year old is not adequate supervision for a 3 year old. Even the 11 year old would probably be too young to leave unsupervised in any situation as well.

Typically babysitters are 15 years old and up. This is a case of bad parenting and it needs to be addressed.

Originally posted by @Colleen F. :

If this is a multiple time event,  a good tactic for this is calling the police and not running around to find the parent when you find the child wandering. Note that you can also call CPS  directly and complain  even just to say it is occurring, it does not need to be occurring at that moment and the more complaints the more likely they are to investigate (they do not investigate every complaint).  You can call,  your PM can call,  and any of the concerned residents.   For your water shutoff not sure if you could put a cage around it that is difficult for a child to remove but still ok for an adult in an emergency.

You can have rules for safety  that is not against fair housing and unattended children under a certain age by a pool or in a parking lot could be one of them......

 *** Nope, you can't have that.  Maybe in other states, not in California.  That would be discrimination against children.   And I really think those laws are Federal.  Stupid, I know.  

Of course, our main concern is the safety of the child.  I have two one-year-old babies, my whole life revolves around them.   And I lost an adult son two years ago.  There is no more fearsome loss than the loss of a child.

I was at a landlording seminar, they went into great detail about how you can't have a rule specific to persons of a certain age.  You can only have rules against specific behaviors.  So - we have rules - "No bicycling or ball playing in the parking lot" - that go for persons of all ages.

 If it happens 11 years old, 15 years old, 50 years old age of supervision is not the issue.  The issue is walking around unsupervised on a regular basis of a  3 year old.  It is not a 1 time event that can happen  and I have known parents that lived the tragedy that can follow. What needs to be reported is that the kid is unsafe and unsupervised routinely.  When working with CPS or DYFS or whatever it is called in your state more reports of  the activity get action. Don't report inadequate parenting, that is a judgment. Report what happened. I found x child home alone in the parking lot.   He was up a ladder, on the roof whatever....  you can report things  now after the fact.  Worried, concerned about child, unsafe, at risk get more action then ticked off, annoyed.  Every state has a number that takes calls, everyone has a responsibility to report it. It can be anonymous.  You can also take that child to the PM's office if you find them wandering and call the police to pick them up, that is going to shake the situation up. you can also issue a lease violation and you likely will do that. My guess is that you are sharing what this child did so far and it has  not even crossed your mind what could happen if that was say a gas valve.  I won't fault you for that because it may be outside your experience but when you call child welfare I can't stress enough that focusing on facts and risk to the child are going to get you the farthest. 

@Jerome Kaidor 

@Colleen F.  

 I would argue that there are three issues here. 

1.  Three year old child wandering unattended.

2.  Eleven year old child left unattended.

3.  PM notified that 11 year old child is responsible for 3 year old.

Wow when I grew up, 10 was the legal age on base when we could start babysitting younger siblings and 12 for other people.  That said, there has been a great sissifying of our youth to the point it might not be that way any more.

@Bob Bowling   you are entitled to argue whatever you want. (I won't be participating). We won't see eye to eye on this as I was a frequent primary caregiver for 1 year old twins at that age and no one thought twice about it, I did an excellent job by all accounts but there are other kids at 17 then and now who couldn't handle it.

 I  would rather focus on resolution as I have dealt with these situations although not as a landlord, focus on the welfare of this  3 year old you may get some action. Laws on leaving older kids alone vary and enforcement is inconsistent. I don't know California but if you get this child under scrutiny the parent is forced to find a different arrangement for the child. Sometimes even saying you are reporting is enough to remedy the situation. This case may be beyond that point. I do agree with @Paul Ewing   that kids are kept young and dependent for much longer these days.   I do hope @Jerome Kaidor   will post to let us know the resolution.

Originally posted by @Colleen F. :

@Bob Bowling   you are entitled to argue whatever you want. (I won't be participating). We won't see eye to eye on this as I was a frequent primary caregiver for 1 year old twins at that age and no one thought twice about it, I did an excellent job by all accounts but there are other kids at 17 then and now who couldn't handle it.

 I  would rather focus on resolution as I have dealt with these situations although not as a landlord, focus on the welfare of this  3 year old you may get some action. Laws on leaving older kids alone vary and enforcement is inconsistent. I don't know California but if you get this child under scrutiny the parent is forced to find a different arrangement for the child. Sometimes even saying you are reporting is enough to remedy the situation. This case may be beyond that point. I do agree with @Paul Ewing   that kids are kept young and dependent for much longer these days.   I do hope @Jerome Kaidor   will post to let us know the resolution.

What are YOU arguing for?  That an 11 year old child that has allowed a 3 year old to wander through a 52 apartment complex in Hayward Ca  be given a 2nd, 3rd chance?  Get real @Colleen F  this ain't yer daddies Oldsmobile.  Is there really anything to argue there?

@Jerome Kaidor   here you can set rules  for pools (set an age limit) and leaving kids in and I thought around cars unsupervised falls within RI state laws but I can actually find the information about parking lots clearly stated.  I suppose in RI it would be within limits to remind them of our state law and that would not be a fair housing violation.   I know the big case you had out there drew a lot of what I would consider arbitrary lines on safety leaving the most vulnerable members of the "family" that fair housing is trying to protect at risk.

Hope you are successful in addressing this.

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