Fair Housing Question - Age?

4 Replies

According to Nolo.com, "The federal Fair Housing Acts do not expressly ban discrimination based on age. Nevertheless, it is definitely forbidden under the broader prohibition against discrimination on the basis of familial status."

I am shopping for a vacation rental for next year, and in the area I want to rent almost all of the VRBO ads state that the primary renter must be at least 25. Some of them add, "or at least 21 and married". I'm pushing 60, so it doesn't hurt me any. I understand the reasoning - this is a beach community and they don't want to rent to groups of college kids. But, no matter how reasonable the restriction is, aren't they flirting with Fair Housing lawsuits?

Age discrimination is allowed for senior communities so long as 80% of the population is over 55 (55 and up communities) or over 62 (everyone has to be over 62 to live there). 

Making requirements of 21 and married is asking for trouble as age and familial status discrimination are prohibited.

I understand not wanting college-aged individuals to tear your place to bits, but explicitly stating the requirements you have seen can get those landlords in trouble.

I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice, but I would definitely think those landlords are walking on thin ice with that kind of terminology in their description. Familial status is a protected class and requiring the short term tenant to be married could definitely be considered discrimination.  

@Sylvia B. This kind of thing varies by locale.  There are 7 protected classes at the federal level.

Race, color, disability, religion, sex, familial status and national origin.

Here in MA, we have 15.  Race, color, national origin, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, ancestry, genetic information, marital status, veteran or active military status, age, familial status (i.e., children), and source of income (i.e., Section 8 voucher)

There are two exceptions to age discrimination.  

1. 55+ communities are allowed to discriminate against those younger than 55.

2. In an owner-occupied 2-plex or 3-plex, an elderly (I think it's 60+?) can refuse to rent to a family with young children if they can show that it represents a hardship.  Except that no exemption applies to any real estate licensee.

In other words, these things really do vary by locale.

I could be wrong, but I didn't think "age" was a protected class. I'd think they can say "primary renter needs to be 25 or over". National car rental companies do it all the time. But that needs to be the rule. Period. Having some crazy qualifier with a younger age being okay if they're married is where I could see it going straight into FHA territory.

Not to mention, what kind of asinine thinking is that?!?  If they think marriage has something to do with maturity, I have a bridge in Brooklynn I'd like to sell them.