A Joint Project of The Legal Aid Foundation of Santa Barbara County and Santa Barbara County, made possible by CDBG Funding for Fair Housing 

Does Fair Housing Law Apply to Me?

 

Fair Housing Law applies to the sale or rental of most housing accommodations, including homes, condominiums, apartments, mobile home parks, group homes and shelters. Housing accommodation owners (including the state), managing agents, real estate brokers, mortgage lenders and homeowners associations also are covered.

 

Fair Housing Law Does not Apply To:

(a) Refusal to rent a portion of an owner-occupied single-family house to a roomer or boarder when only one roomer or boarder is to live in the household and the owner does not publish any discriminatory notices, statements, or advertisements; and

(b) stating or implying that housing is available only to persons of one sex, where sharing of living areas in a single dwelling is involved.

Citizenship or immigration law is irrelevant to Fair Housing Law.  It applies to California tenants and applicants regardless of their citizenship or immigration status. The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing not only does not inquire about a complainant’s citizenship or immigration status, but discrimination on the basis of immigration status is unlawful under Fair Housing Law.

How to Request Help

Landlords and property owners are required to engage with you once you request a reasonable accomodation for a disability.  Often, unlawful discrimination goes unreported, and if you notice that you may have been treated unfairly, call the HUD hotline (800-669-9777) to have a housing discrimination specialist determine if it might violate the Fair Housing Act.

If you have asked for help or requested an accommodation from your landlord but still feel you were the victim of discrimination, in most cases you need to contact DFEH within one year and file a form titled intake form. This is a simple process compared to most legal actions.  You can also  request mediation, an inspection if there are problems on the property or contact an attorney.

Retaliation Protections

Often tenants are concerned that reporting a concern may result in more harassment or even eviction.  California law provides protection for tenants who exercise their lawful rights, including reporting unlawful housing discrimination.  And California state law (Cal. Civ. Code § 1942.5) prohibits landlords from retaliating against tenants.

Unlawful retaliation can strengthen a fair housing case, and it can be a defense against eviction and rent increases that directly respond to your complaint. 

 
 
 

Detroit's 8 Mile Wall Segregating White and Black Neighborhoods