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Legal FAQs for REALTORS® — Fair Housing
Familial Status and Occupancy

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The owner of the rental property I manage wants to limit the number of people who can live in the property. Will such a policy violate fair-housing laws? (Updated July 17, 2015)

Possibly. A property owner who tries to impose limits on families with children may be violating fair-housing laws that protect familial status. 

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development says an occupancy policy of two people per bedroom can be reasonable, but other factors should be considered, including the size and number of bedrooms, the age of the children, and the configuration of the unit.

You should ensure that your occupancy policy is consistent and applies to all occupants and rental applicants. For example, you can’t refuse to rent to one family because they have children or demand that a tenant with a baby on the way move to a larger unit. 

What does "familial status", one of the protected classes under the federal Fair Housing Act, include? (August 21, 2013)

"Familial Status" is defined as any family in which one or more individuals (who have not attained the age of 18 years) live with a parent, a legal custodian, or a designee of the parent or legal custodian, with the written permission of the parent or legal custodian.The protections against discrimination also apply to any person who is pregnant or is in the process of securing legal custody of an individual who has not attained 18 years.

Legal Disclaimer: The material provided here is for informational purposes only and is not intended and should not be considered as legal advice for your particular matter. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. Applicability of the legal principles discussed in this material may differ substantially in individual situations.

While the Texas Association of REALTORS® has used reasonable efforts in collecting and preparing materials included here, due to the rapidly changing nature of the real estate marketplace and the law, and our reliance on information provided by outside sources, the Texas Association of REALTORS® makes no representation, warranty, or guarantee of the accuracy or reliability of any information provided here or elsewhere on Any legal or other information found here, on, or at other sites to which we link, should be verified before it is relied upon.

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