June 11, 2013 > Fair Housing
Submitted By ECHO Fair Housing
ECHO Housing has been providing fair housing and landlord tenant counseling for the Tri-City Area for more than 25 years. Our fair housing program investigates discrimination cases. Landlords cannot deny housing or treat people differently based on their protected class. Under Federal fair housing the protected classes are race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability and familial status (families with children under the age of 18). California has additional protection such as source of income, sexual orientation and marital status.
Our office sees a lot of housing discrimination based on familial status and against people with disabilities Families with children have the right to live in the housing or their choice. Sometimes landlords/managers will "steer" families with children toward certain areas of the complex. Some housing providers won't rent to families with children anywhere but on the ground floor. This is an illegal practice. Some managers will have overly restrictive rules for children such as not allowing children to play outside or use the pool or limit children's pool hours. Children must be given the same ability to enjoy the amenities that adults do. Managers are allowed to mandate that children under 14 must be supervised by an adult when using the pool.
People with disabilities also face discrimination in housing. Under both Federal and State fair housing laws, tenants who are disabled have the right to ask for what we call a "reasonable accommodation" Some landlords/managers have "no pet" policies on their property. This is fine. However if a disabled tenant needs a service animal or a therapy animal, the manager must change the rule and allow for a "reasonable accommodation" and let the disabled person have her animal. The manager cannot charge a pet deposit or impose any other fees for the animal. People with disabilities may need other reasonable accommodations such as a closer parking spot or be allowed to have a live-in caregiver.
Our landlord-tenant program provides information and counseling to both landlords and tenants about their rights and responsibilities. Often we get calls from tenants saying that their landlord won't make needed repairs or kept their deposit or that they received a 3 day or 30 day notice and they want to know what they need to do. Landlords and managers use our service as well to help mediate disputes with their tenants and learn about their rights has housing providers.
If you have concerns regarding fair housing or landlord-tenant issues, please call ECHO Housing. We can be reached at (510) 581-9380. You can also go to our website and email us. Our address is: www.echofairhousing.org.