What You Need to Know About California’s Fair Housing Act

Under California’s Fair Housing Act, it’s illegal to be denied housing based on race, color, national origin, sex, religion, immigration status, marital status, and more.
Written by Lindsey Hoover
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
background
Under the
California
Fair Housing Act, it’s illegal to be denied housing based on race, national origin, immigration status, primary language, age, religion, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, genetic information, marital and familial status, source of income, or military or veteran status.
The federal Fair Housing Act was passed in 1968 and marked a turning point for individuals and families often discriminated against on the basis of race, religion, national origin, and sex. However, individual states have their own policies in place regarding filing a complaint
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Does California have a Fair Housing Act?

California has its own Fair Housing Act, and it’s one of the most comprehensive in the country. Details about the Act can be found in sections
12900-12999
of the California Statutes. 
Under California’s Fair Housing and Employment Act, real estate agents, landlords, builders, home sellers, mortgage lenders, and more are prohibited from discriminating against tenants. Examples of discrimination include:
  • Refusing to sell, rent, or lease to protected individuals
  • Refusing to negotiate the sale, rental, or lease of housing to protected individuals
  • Falsely claiming that housing isn’t available, when in fact it is
  • Denying a home loan or home insurance to protected individuals
  • Providing inferior terms, conditions, privileges, or facilities to certain groups 
  • Demanding sexual favors or subjecting someone to sexual harassment/advances for housing privileges 
  • Unjustly canceling or terminating a sale or rental agreement
  • Refusing to accommodate a disabled person, including modification to property and enforcing policies and practices for equal enjoyment of property 
  • Retaliating against protected individuals filing a complaint
  • Imposing restrictive rules that limit daily activity on the property, especially for families with children
If you feel that any of the above violations have happened to you based on the factors outlined above (age, color, disability, etc.) you can
file a complaint
with California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH)

Accessibility requirements under the Fair Housing Act

In California, certain accessibility requirements must be met under the Fair Housing Act. 
Accessibility for multifamily homes, built for occupancy after March 13, 1991, are required by law to meet all requirements and compliances stated in the
Fair Housing Act Accessibility Guidelines
.
Accessibility for federally assisted housing must meet the following criteria: 
  • All housing developments with five or more units must design and construct 5% of dwelling units, or at least one unit, whichever is greater, to accommodate those with mobile disabilities. 
  • 2% of dwelling units, or at least one unit, whichever is greater, must accommodate those with hearing or visual disabilities. 
  • Public and common use areas must be accessible to those with disabilities
If you believe your place of residence doesn’t meet the above required accessibility requirements, or if your landlord refuses to make modifications and/or accommodations for your disability, you have the right to file a complaint with the DFEH.

How to file a fair housing complaint in California

If you experienced housing discrimination based on your race, national origin, immigration status, primary language, age, religion, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, genetic information, marital or familial status, source of income, or military or veteran status, you can report the illegal practices to the DFEH to begin the complaint process
Something to keep in mind: after you file a discrimination complaint, the DFEH will determine if the case is eligible for an investigation. If they accept, the DFEH will begin an investigation and will attempt to resolve the dispute if they feel it’s appropriate. 
Below we cover how to file a complaint with DFEH: 
  • Gather the following information: facts and any records about the incident in question, including the name and contact information of the person who committed the alleged discriminatory practice; documents or evidence related to your complaint; names and contact information of witnesses (if any).
  • File an intake form through the
    DFEH’s online portal
    , by
    phone
    , or by
    mail
    .
When it comes to filing a housing discriminatory complaint, you must do so within one year of the alleged occurrence of discrimination. Contact
DFEH’s offices
for further questions. 

State agency vs. local offices

In most cases, reporting to the DFEH is the best way to deal with housing discrimination in California. However, some jurisdictions have their own local agencies to address fair housing inquiries. If you live in one of these jurisdictions, here’s the agency you’ll need to go to:
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How to save money on home and renters insurance in California

Whether you live in (or are looking to move to)
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FAQ

To report a landlord of discriminatory housing pracitces in California, you’ll need to file a complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). Once they evaluate your claim, they’ll decide whether to open the case for investigation. 
DFEH can be reached by telephone at 1-800-884-1684 or by email at contact.center@dfeh.ca.gov.
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