If you have read this blog (and really, who in the professional apartment management business has NOT been reading the blog), you know that the Fair Housing Act (FHA) prohibits discrimination on the basis of familial status. But, a question I get asked regularly is: Just what is familial status?

Familial status is defined as: one or more individuals (who have not attained the age of 18 years) being domiciled with: (a) a parent or another person having legal custody of such individual or individuals; or (b) the designee of such parent or other person having such custody, with the written permission of such parent or other person.

The FHA further provides that the protections afforded against discrimination on the basis of familial status shall apply to any person who is pregnant or is in the process of securing legal custody to any individual who has not attained the age of 18 years.

Notably, this protection does not, however, apply to communities which are designated as housing for older persons.

Familial status issues also arise when discussing occupancy standards. The old general rule, which reflected a two person per bedroom standard, is only a guide and does not end the analysis. If a unit is large enough, some jurisdictions have found that a "two plus one" (or three persons per bedroom) standard can and should be appropriate.

In other words, to ensure you do not discriminate against familial status, for most apartment communities -- you cannot advertise as for "adults only." Or you will get to speak with a lawyer like me.