California Clarifies Its Rental Housing Discrimination Rules

landlord helpThrough a number of amendments brought over the past several months, California legislators have clarified earlier provisions regarding discrimination in rental housing.

Currently, it is illegal for a landlord to “discriminate against or harass any person because of the race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, ancestry, familial status, source of income, or disability of that person.”

With regard to source of income discrimination, it is illegal to apply income standards that would effectively screen out those on subsidies or other assistance.

Some confusion surfaced under the old provisions as to whether a landlord could verify the source and amount of income without violating the rules. Currently a landlord is discriminating if they intend to do so, or if their actions “have the effect of discriminating” against an applicant or tenant based on source of income. However, it does not “constitute discrimination based on source of income to make a written or oral inquiry concerning the level or source of income.”

In instances where a tenant has a government rent subsidy, the law continues to prohibits the “use of a financial or income standard in assessing eligibility for the rental of housing that is not based on the portion of the rent to be paid by the tenant.”

The law prohibits advertising a rental property with a preference concerning source of income.

Also, the current law prohibits applying a “financial or income standard in the rental of housing that fails to account for the aggregate income of persons residing together or proposing to reside together on the same basis as the aggregate income of married persons residing together or proposing to reside together.

See How to Deal With Prospective Tenants.

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