Posts Tagged ‘discrimination’

Keating Memo

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

Author: Scott Goodman • Scenic West Property Management

A widely used practice among property managers is to limit occupancy to two people per bedroom, plus one extra person per dwelling. Ever wonder where that came from?

The “Keating Memo” 

In 1999, HUD issued a statement confirming its adoption of the “Keating Memo.” This document is a 1991 internal memorandum from former HUD General Counsel Frank Keating, which states that an occupancy standard of two persons per bedroom will generally be considered reasonable under the Fair Housing Act. Specifically, the memo addresses the problem of occupancy standards used as a pretext for family status discrimination. 

When the Office of General Counsel sent the Keating Memo to HUD headquarters and regional counsel in 1991, Keating claimed that the two persons per bedroom standard was “rebuttable.” The memo also said that HUD officials should not use this standard alone to decide whether a landlord’s occupancy standards are discriminatory. 

HUD has listed several other factors that investigators will use to detect whether an occupancy policy is reasonable. They include the size and design of rooms and units, the ages of a family’s children, and the state and local ordinances dealing with occupancy in the locality where a Fair Housing complaint has been filed. 

Even in cases where a landlord’s occupancy policy is reasonable under the Fair Housing Act, HUD will consider evidence that shows the landlord has made discriminatory statements, set different rules for children than adults, or taken steps to keep families with children out of a certain property. HUD will also pursue claims against landlords who enforce a reasonable occupancy standard against families with children and not against groups of adults. 

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