WHAT IS UNLAWFUL DISCRIMINATION?
This publication is intended only as a general guideline and should not be relied upon. Please consult with your legal counsel or state department regarding laws governing your particular jurisdiction.
It is unlawful for a landlord to refuse to rent to a tenant or to engage in any other type of discrimination on the basis of group characteristics specified by law (such as race or religion) that are not closely related to the business needs of the landlord. Indeed, the California Legislature has declared that the opportunity to seek, obtain and hold housing without unlawful discrimination is a civil right.
It is unlawful for a landlord, managing agent, real estate broker, or salesperson to discriminate against a person or harass a person because of the person's race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, ancestry, familial status, source of income, or disability. Federal law also prohibits discrimination based on any of the following:
Under California law, a landlord cannot use a financial or income standard for persons who want to live together and aggregate (combine) their incomes that is different from the landlord's standard for married persons who aggregate their incomes. In the case of a government rent subsidy, a landlord who is assessing a potential tenant's eligibility for a rental unit must use a financial or income standard that is based on the portion of rent that the tenant would pay.
It is illegal for landlords to discriminate against families with children under 18. However, housing for senior citizens may exclude families with children. "Housing for senior citizens" includes housing that is occupied only by persons who are at least age 62, or housing that is operated for occupancy by persons who are at least age 55 and that meets other occupancy, policy and reporting requirements stated in the law.
Limited exceptions for single rooms and roommates
If the owner of an owner-occupied, single-family home rents out a room in the home to a roomer or a boarder, and there are no other roomers or boarders living in the household, the owner is not subject to the these restrictions.
However, the owner cannot make oral or written statements, or use notices or advertisements which indicate any preference, limitation, or discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, ancestry, familial status, source of income, or disability. Further, the owner cannot discriminate on the basis of medical condition or age.
A person in a single-family dwelling who advertises for a roommate may express a preference on the basis of gender, if living areas (such as the kitchen, living room, or bathroom) will be shared by the roommate.
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