Law: Adults Only

No children need apply

NO KIDS read the sign on the front door of the apartment building in San Francisco's Sunset district. Photographed last summer by investigators for the city's consumer-fraud unit, the sign has just cost the landlords a $4,000 fine. The penalty, agreed to by court-approved settlement, was the first under a three-year-old San Francisco law prohibiting apartment owners from refusing to rent to families with children.

The law is a response to a growing U.S. phenomenon that American families find more and more intolerable. As the single-family house becomes a...

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