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Q: There is a local college nearby that is remodeling its dorms. As a result, the college has a significant shortage of student housing. As status as a student is not a protected class, can we market our rental housing to students only without violating Fair Housing law? 

A: The answer here is no. While colleges and universities can limit their dorms to students only, off-campus housing still has to follow the same Fair Housing rules whether near a college or not. In this case, it is true that status as a student is not itself a protected class so advertising the rentals as being for “students only” would be facially neutral. However, elderliness, defined in the law as individuals 55 years of age and older, is a protected class. As most college students are 18-25 years-old, marketing to college students only would result in disproportionately excluding individuals on the basis of elderliness. So, “students only” advertising would be a Fair Housing violation once the disparate impact analysis is factored in.   

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