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Understanding Fair Housing Laws in San Francisco


Understanding Fair Housing Laws


Landlord-Tenant Attorney in San Francisco, California


Everyone who applies for housing has the right to be treated fairly and equally. When it comes to buying, selling, or leasing a home or rental property, several federal and state laws were enacted to ensure equal housing opportunities for all people. Housing discrimination is illegal and contributes to the inequity in the quality of housing a person can obtain. If you have been the victim of housing discrimination, it is highly recommended to consult a reliable San Francisco landlord-tenant lawyer to help you.

At Steven Adair MacDonald & Partners, P.C., we have been protecting landlord-tenant rights for decades. Our legal team is committed to helping our clients fight illegal housing discrimination, settle landlord-tenant disputes, and deal with other real estate matters. We will help you know your rights and responsibilities under California fair housing laws.

Call us now and schedule an initial consultation.

What is Housing Discrimination?

Housing discrimination happens when an individual is treated adversely based on legally protected characteristics such as their race, religion, sex, religion, disability, or familial status. Although this behavior is illegal, housing discrimination still occurs and is often unreported. If you are a landlord or a tenant, it’s crucial to know the basics of fair housing laws. A credible San Francisco landlord-tenant attorney can help you know your rights and fight against housing discrimination.

Landlords cannot discriminate against prospective tenants based on protected characteristics in any of the following ways:

  • Refuse to sell, rent, or lease
  • Refuse to negotiate for a sale, rental, or lease
  • Deny or withhold housing accommodations
  • Terminate a sale or rental agreement
  • Pose an advertisement regarding the rental or sale of any property indicating restrictions and limitations based on any protected characteristics
  • Provide inferior housing terms, conditions, privileges, facilities, or services.

What are the Fair Housing Laws?

Landlords carefully choose tenants who are willing to comply with the terms and conditions of the rental agreement or rental lease. They look for trustworthy occupants with stable incomes and good credit scores. During the selection process, the landlord should keep in mind that there are federal anti-discrimination laws that must be observed.

Housing discrimination against tenants and homebuyers by landlords, sellers, and lenders based on race, color, religion, sex, familial status, disability, and nationality was outlawed in the United States by the Fair Housing Act of 1968. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) enforces the Fair Housing Act (FHA) that limits discriminatory practices related to landlords, tenants, and housing. A knowledgeable landlord-tenant lawyer in the San Francisco Bay Area can help you understand the importance of the Fair Housing Act.   

The FHA was created on the belief that every American should have an equal opportunity to find a place to live, without being afraid of discrimination due to uncontrollable factors. The FHA covers most housing, including apartments, single-family homes, condominiums, manufactured homes, and others. In some cases, certain groups may be exempted from the act. It includes the following:

  • Single-family homes that are rented or sold without using a broker
  • Owner-occupied homes with no more than four units
  • Members-only private clubs or organizations
  • Religious organization
  • Senior housing

In addition to the Federal Fair Housing Act, almost every other state has its own Fair Housing Laws. These laws have similar provisions found in the Federal Fair Housing Act but often add additional protections. It usually covers sexual orientation, personal appearance, or political affiliation.

In California, the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and the Unruh Civil Rights Act (Unruh Act) are the laws that govern housing discrimination. The FEHA offers broader protections than FHA because it forbids discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, disability, source of income, gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, marital status, ancestry, or genetic information of an individual. On the other hand, the Unruh Act prohibits discrimination based on sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, sexual orientation, citizenship, primary language, or immigration status.

What Should You Do If Your Landlord Discriminates You?

If you suspect that you’ve been treated unfairly in housing, the first step you should take is to document the acts of discrimination. It includes any direct or indirect evidence from the discriminatory proving that you were treated differently.

Dealing with fair housing laws violations can be complicated. Landlords who violated the fair housing laws can be punished with hefty fines and penalties. In some cases, a landlord could be liable to a tenant for compensation and monetary damages. If you believe your landlord is discriminating against you, you may need a seasoned San Francisco landlord-tenant lawyer to stop the illegal actions and help you recover damages for any harm you suffered.

Tenants who are discriminated against by landlords can file a complaint with the civil court, the San Francisco Human Rights Commission (HRC), or the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). Another option is to file a fair housing complaint with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), or a state or local agency in HUD’s Fair Housing Assistance Program (FHAP). Someone within HUD will investigate your complaint and determine whether the facts listed are indeed a violation of the Fair Housing Act.

Speak to our Experienced San Francisco Landlord-Tenant Attorney Now!

Landlords and property owners must respect your fair housing rights as a tenant. In California, the law states that it is illegal for a landlord to discriminate against any person who is a member of a protected class. If a landlord fails to provide you with a fair housing opportunity, he or she must be held accountable for all the damages.

Don’t let your right to equal and fair housing be taken away from you. Understanding fair housing laws can help you fight for your legal rights. If you or a loved one has been a victim of housing discrimination, consult our competent San Francisco landlord-tenant lawyers at Steven Adair MacDonald & Partners, P.C. Our landlord-tenant law firm will explore and discuss all the possible legal options for your situation. We have extensive knowledge and experience in dealing with fair housing complaints and lawsuits.

Contact us now and schedule an initial consultation.

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