QUESTION: I live in an apartment complex that has many families with children as well as plenty of individuals with no kids. Last summer there were many arguments about the use of the two pools at the complex.
During the summer months, children were using both pools from 9 in the morning to 9 at night. Some tenants tried set up times for "lap swimming" in one of the pools, but that didn't work.
This year a group of us--both parents and non-parents--proposed at a meeting with the resident manager that the larger pool be dedicated to use by children and the smaller pool to adults.
The manager said restricting use of the pools at all would be a violation of fair housing laws. How could protecting a tenant's right to a quiet, uninterrupted swim be a violation?
ANSWER: Since the compromise does not directly affect the physical housing of the tenants, the connection between federal fair housing law and seemingly innocuous pool rules could seem to be quite a stretch.
But federal law does specifically protect the rights of all tenants to equal access to all services and amenities at their residence.
In Section 100.65 b.4, the law states that it is unlawful to limit "the use of privileges, services or facilities associated with a dwelling because of [the] . . . familial status . . . of a tenant or person associated with him or her." Thus, the use of each pool is extended to each tenant on the lease as well as to the children or guests of the tenant.
Although the solution suggested by this tenant group seems to be the best compromise on the surface, the rights of the children are indeed being violated.
The best rule of thumb when writing house rules is to make them neutral. The rule in question should not target a specific group of people.
One way to test the validity of the rule is to substitute another group for the targeted group.
In this example, the rule "children may use the south pool only; the north pool is to be used by adults only" can be tested by substituting "women may use the south pool only; the north pool is reserved for men."
In the second example, the rule is clearly discriminatory.
Tenant Needs Second Notice of Hike in Rent
Q: I recently gave my tenant, who is on a month-to-month agreement, a 30-day rent increase notice that stated that it would take effect on the first of the next month.
I delivered it to him, however, on the fifth of the month. He protested and asked for a new notice. What should I do?
A: Your tenant is entitled to a minimum of 30 days notice before a rent increase can take effect. If you don't issue a new notice, the increase will not take effect until the fifth of the following month and your tenant will owe a pro-rated amount. (The first five days at the old rent, the rest at the new rate.)
For the sake of clarity and good relations with your tenant, consider issuing a new 30-day notice. Date and deliver it no later than the first of the month and state that the increase takes effect the first of the next month.
By doing this, you will be giving up your pro-rated increase for one month but will probably end up with a happier tenant.
This column is prepared by Project Sentinel, a rental housing mediation service in Sunnyvale, Calif. Questions may be sent to Project Sentinel, 582-B Dunholme Way, Sunnyvale, CA 94087 but cannot be answered individually.
For housing discrimination questions, complaints or help, call the state Department of Fair Housing and Employment at (800) 233-3212 or the Fair Housing Council in your area:
Westside Los Angeles, call (310) 477-9260.
San Fernando Valley, call (818) 373-1185.
Pasadena, call (818) 791-0211.
El Monte, call (818) 579-6868.
Orange County, call (714) 569-0828. San Bernardino County, call (909) 884-8056. San Diego County, call (619) 699-5888.