California Fair Housing Act: An Overview

Under the state’s landlord-tenant laws, ensuring equal access to housing is not just a legal obligation but a moral imperative. Enter the Fair Housing Act (FHA), a cornerstone of fairness and equality in the realm of housing.

As a landlord in California, understanding the intricacies of the FHA is beneficial and essential to fostering inclusive and equitable rental practices. This post will delve into the intricacies of the Fair Housing Act in California, exploring its historical underpinnings, pivotal provisions, and the role it assigns to landlords.

Exploring the Fair Housing Act in California

The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) stands as a robust legal framework dedicated to guaranteeing equitable housing opportunities for every resident. The act’s pivotal provisions and elements include:

Protected Groups

The FEHA makes it illegal to treat people unfairly because of factors like race, color, religion, sex, national origin, familial status, disability, or any genetic information. In California, the law goes even further by protecting people based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Whether you're a landlord, property manager, realtor, another kind of housing provider, it's your legal duty to treat everyone fairly. Discriminating against any of these groups in housing-related activities breaks the law under the Fair Housing Act in California.

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Prohibited Actions

As a landlord, it's against the law to say no to selling, renting, or leasing a home just because someone belongs to a certain group. It's also not okay to put out ads that show a preference for specific types of people or to lie about a property's availability when it's actually open.

Reasonable Changes for People with Disabilities

If someone has a disability, landlords should try to make things easier for them, like letting them have service animals or making reasonable accommodations and modifications to the property. Breaking these rules can lead to consequences like fines. If landlords aren't sure about what they should do under the Fair Housing Act in California, it's always a good idea to talk to legal experts or fair housing specialists.

Retaliation Protection

In California's Fair Housing Act (FHA), retaliation can be when landlord discriminates against a tenant because they stood up for their rights under fair housing laws. Under state law, landlords can't punish tenants for accessing their rights.

Exceptions

There are a few cases where the adherence to the act is different. Exceptions extend to:

  • Homes with four or fewer units that the owner lives in
  • Single-family homes rented without a real estate agent
  • Some religious groups or clubs with special membership

But these exceptions are very specific. Even if landlords think they're exempt, they should still talk to legal experts or fair housing specialists to be sure they're following all the rules.

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Accessibility Standards

Housing providers have to follow certain rules to make sure their places are easy to use for people with disabilities. These policies help make homes and shared areas accessible, so everyone, no matter their abilities, can enjoy living there. The goal is to create inclusive spaces where everyone feels welcome and can use everything equally.

Responsibilities of Landlords According to FHA California

Here's what landlords need to do to follow the Fair Housing Act (FHA) in California and make sure everyone has a fair chance at housing:

Avoid Discriminatory Advertising

Ads should reflect a commitment to diversity and inclusion, steering clear of language or imagery that may exclude or marginalize certain groups. By crafting inclusive advertisements, landlords can attract a diverse pool of tenants and cultivate a welcoming atmosphere within their rental properties.

Treat Everyone Equally

Regardless of background or identity, every individual deserves to be treated with dignity and respect in the pursuit of housing. By fostering an environment of inclusivity and fairness, landlords not only fulfill their legal obligations but also contribute to the creation of vibrant and harmonious communities.

Follow Proper Eviction Protocol

When seeking to evict a tenant from the rental property, landlords must ensure that they have a valid reason for doing so. They cannot use self-help methods to remove tenants and cannot site discriminatory reasons to justify the eviction.

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Charge Fair Security Deposits

As a landlord, you need to ensure that you’re charge fair and equal security deposits to each tenant. Asking for higher security deposits from some tenant’s but not others could be considered discrimination. What’s more, the use and return of the deposits must also adhere to Fair Housing and other rental laws.

Ensure Consistent Screening Criteria

Applying uniform standards to all applicants ensures transparency and fairness in the tenant selection process. By adhering to consistent screening criteria, landlords uphold the principles of equality and nondiscrimination, fostering trust and confidence among prospective tenants and promoting a level playing field for all applicants.

Embrace Reasonable Accommodations

Recognizing and accommodating the needs of tenants with disabilities is not only a legal requirement but also a moral imperative. By being receptive to reasonable requests for accommodations, such as installing ramps or allowing service animals, landlords demonstrate empathy and compassion toward individuals with disabilities, ensuring that everyone has equal access to housing opportunities.

Bottom Line

In California, the Fair Housing Act (FHA) represents more than just rules; it symbolizes a commitment to fairness, equality, and the unwavering drive toward a world free from discrimination. Landlords must ensure that they adhere to its guidelines to avoid legal disputes.

As landlords navigate the complexities of housing regulations, seeking guidance and expertise becomes paramount. Collaborating with experienced property managers like Clockwork Property Management can illuminate the path to inclusive practices, ensuring that every tenant's rights are upheld, and every home is a beacon of respect and dignity. Contact us today to learn about our property management services!

Disclaimer: Please note that the information provided in this blog is intended for general guidance and should not be considered as a replacement for professional legal advice. It is important to be aware that laws pertaining to property management may change, rendering this information outdated by the time you read it.