Site Managers Can Enforce Children's Chalk-Writing Rules
Facts: In September 2004, a site manager gave a new resident a copy of the lease along with the site's house rules, which contained the following:
“Supervision problems will be grounds for eviction.
“All children 10 and under must be supervised by an adult while outside.
“Any damage to an apartment, the building, the common grounds, or upon the entire property of the apartment community, by a resident or a resident's family, invitees, or guests shall be charged to the tenant.
“It is understood and agreed to by the parties that the Landlord prohibits bicycle riding, skateboarding, rollerblading, and skating along the common area sidewalks, walkways, and parking areas.”
In August 2005, the site manager sent the resident a notice demanding that she clean up the sidewalk chalk that her two children, both under age 10, had left in front of their unit. A few days later, the resident received a second notice stating: “Do not allow children to draw on the walkways. You need to comply with this immediately.”
The resident received another notice of noncompliance in November, which declared: “Breach of other: Do not permit children to draw on walk.” Then, a few days later, the manager informed the resident that she was in violation of the terms of the lease by permitting her children to draw on walkways.
The resident wrote a letter to the site management stating that she believed that the “manager is finding ways to harass my family.” She then sued the site in federal district court, arguing that there was no legal basis for issuing the lease violation notices and seeking damages for the alleged harassment and discrimination against her and her children.
Decision: The court sided with the site management, ruling that it had not harassed or discriminated against the resident or her children.
Reasoning: The court disagreed with the resident's claim that the three notices she received relating to the chalk drawings were arbitrarily sent by site managers and had no legal basis for their issuance. The court ruled that the notices derived from the managers' desire to keep the site clean and that all residents, not just children, are subject to notices for failing to properly maintain their units and common areas.
Reasonable residents would therefore interpret this not as a limitation on children, but rather as an effort by site managers to ensure that their residents comply with the requirements to keep the site in a clean and neat condition, the court concluded. Therefore, the court ruled that the resident had no cause of action against the site management on this point.
- Pack v. Fort Washington, December 2009