Avoid discrimination in tenant safety rules

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Q: I manage an apartment complex, where we have many families with children. We have large parking lots where kids often ride their bikes. This is an obvious safety hazard, so I've posted a sign saying "Children may not ride bikes in the parking lot." The owner told me to take it down, that it discriminates against kids. Can he be right? --Jackie W.

A: Your owner is right, to a point. But he hasn't taken the next step of showing you how to handle your legitimate safety concerns without creating legal problems, which will be easy to do. Here's the deal.

Landlords may not make rules that are directed at federally designated "protected classes" of people, such as members of a certain religion, race, national origin, familial status, disability and sex. Policies that target children are considered instances of discrimination against families. State laws frequently add to this list, protecting people based on their marital...