This site provides you an overview on all aspects of fair housing. You learn right here what landlords can and cannot do in the rental and sale of housing, and what you can do if you are discriminated against in a housing matter.

It's the Law! It's illegal...
To refuse to sell or rent housing because of a person's race, color, national origin, religion, sex sexual orientation, marital status, disability, age or familial status (due to the presence of children).
To discriminate in the terms or conditions of the sale or rental of housing (for example, by requiring different down payments or security deposits, or by restricting families with children to certain apartments).
To ask questions or to record information about an applicant's race, age, marital status, gender, sexual orientation, etc.
To place or publish advertisements for housing which indicate preferences or limitations (for example, "adults only" or "couples preferred").
To claim that a house or apartment is unavailable when, in fact, it is.
To engage in blockbusting, or to STEER different kinds of people to different housing opportunities.
DO's and DON'Ts for the home and apartment seeker.
111Do write down
The name of the manager or agent with whom you spoke.
The address of the building.
The number of the apartment you asked about.
The number of bedrooms it has.
Personal information requested of you.
Information you volunteered about yourself.
The requirements for occupancy.
When the unit is available.
How you found out about the apartment or house.

111Do ask
The manager or agent for a business card.
Him/her to write the apartment number, deposit amount, and the date it is available.
111Don't
Take a simple "NO".
Appear angry
Threaten to sue.
A landlord may require
A certain income.
Credit references.
First and last month's rent.
Cleaning and security deposits (within certain limits).
It may be discrimination if...
The sign says "VACANCY" and the manger says "IT'S RENTED".
The story you are told in person is different from the information given on the phone.
You are told "You wouldn't like it here".
The manager takes your application, says you will be called after references are checked, but you are not contacted.
The manager offers to put you on a waiting list.
You are told to come back next week; the units can't be shown at the present time.
You are told "The owner has changed his/her mind".
For clients in San Jose, California, Legal Aid Society of Santa Clara County will:
Discuss your problem with you.
Counsel you on your fair housing rights.
Investigate your fair housing complaint.
Explain your options.
Mediate with the owner and/or manager.
Inform the owner and/or manager of the law.
Litigate a lawsuit on your behalf against the owner and/or manager.
If you feel uneasy about a response, let us check it out. Remember that Fair Housing is Your Right.

Can I be denied housing because I have children?
In general, NO. Both federal and state laws prohibit a wide range of discriminatory practices based on the presence or number of children. The laws also protect pregnant women. The laws cover all types of residential real estate including houses, apartments, and condominiums. For example, a person cannot refuse to rent, sell, or lease to you because you have minor children. An owner can not:
Restrict you to only certain floors or areas of an apartment or condominium complex.
Charge you a higher rent or security deposit.
Set age restrictions for minor children, or advertise that "no children are allowed".
Impose unreasonably restrictive rules on children's activities.
Are there any exceptions to the laws prohibiting discrimination against families with children?
YES. Senior citizen housing complexes may refuse to sell or rent to families with minor children. Owner occupied apartments with no more than four units and housing operated by private clubs or religious organizations are also exempt.
Can a landlord limit the number of persons living in an apartment or house?
YES. A general guideline is that a landlord may limit the number of persons living in an apartment or house to two per bedroom plus one additional person. However, the restriction must be applied equally to all persons and should be a written policy.
Can a landlord limit use of recreational facilities by children?
NO. However, a landlord may establish reasonable safety rules for recreational facilities.
What is sexual harassment in housing?
Sexual harassment includes a range of different unlawful acts on the part of a landlord or his/her agent. Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual acts, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment.
Sexual harassment occurs when a landlord asks for sexual favors in exchange for the rental of an apartment, repairs, or any other term, condition, or privilege of renting. It may also take the form of sexual comments or actual physical touching. Sexual harassment occurs if a landlord creates a hostile living environment for you through sexually offensive comments or touching.
What are some possible indications of sexual harassment?
There are many examples of conduct by landlords or their agents that may be sexual harassment. Here are a few examples:
"Sure, I'll make the repairs if you're nice to me".
"There's a lot of people who want to get into this apartment, but I'm going to let you in and I know you'll know how to thank me".
"If you go out with me, you don't have to pay rent".
Is Sexual harassment illegal?
YES. Sexual harassment violates Federal and State Fair Housing Laws. It may also be a criminal offense such as assault or sexual assault. It is also illegal for a landlord to retaliate against you because you report him/her or because you say "no."
What can I do if I am sexually harassed?
You should document everything by writing down all of the incidents of sexual harassment and the dates on which they occurred. If the harasser sent you any sexually explicit or suggestive materials, keep them and write down the date and the circumstances under which you received them.

In San Jose, California contact the Legal Aid Society of Santa Clara County's Fair Housing Project at (408) 283-1535, Ext. 237. Otherwise, consult your local bar association or yellow pages for attorneys and/or organizations that assist victims of housing discrimination. Also, contact your local police department to report the harassment. If you are told that you can not press charges, insist that a report be made.
How is racial discrimination defined?
Racial discrimination may be defined as treating certain groups of people differently than others based on race or national origin. Discrimination may be intentional or unintentional.
What are some examples of racial discrimination in housing?
Federal and state laws cover a wide range of illegal, racially discriminatory practices. The following are a few examples:
After you make a bona fide offer, a landlord or seller may not refuse to rent an apartment or sell a house to you based on your race.
A landlord may not require different down payments or security deposits based on your race.
A landlord or seller may not indicate that an apartment or house is unavailable when in fact it is available.
A landlord or seller may not ask you questions about your race, color or national origin.
A landlord may not impose different rules on you than those imposed on other tenants based on your race.
What are some possible indications of discrimination?
There are many examples of conduct by a landlord or seller that may be discrimination. Here are a few examples:
You are told, "you wouldn't like it here".
The sign says "vacancy", and the manager says "it's rented".
You are told the manager has "changed his mind".
You are told that you can not use the laundry room after 8:00 p.m., but other tenants of other races are permitted to do so.
Do the laws prohibiting racial discrimination apply to all types of housing?
YES. The laws cover all types of residential real estate including not only houses and apartments, but also mobile home parks, condominiums, homeless shelters, and motel rooms used as temporary shelter.
Is discrimination in financing housing illegal?
YES. It is unlawful for those financing housing to refuse to make a loan available or to offer different terms or conditions based on race.
How is disability defined?
Disability is defined by law as a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more of a person's major life activities, or having a record of such an impairment, or being recorded as having such an impairment.

Major activities include caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, and breathing. The definition includes persons with mental or emotional disabilities, alcoholism, high blood pressure, and difficulties associated with age. Also covered are persons with various diseases including AIDS.

What kinds of discrimination against disabled persons are illegal?
A wide range of discriminatory practices against disabled persons are illegal. Here are just a few examples:
Landlords and sellers of housing can not refuse to rent or sell to you because you are impaired with a disabled.
You can not be denied access to recreational facilities of an apartment or condominium complex because you are disabled.
You can not be segregated into a certain area of housing complex because of a disability.
A landlord can not ask you whether you are capable of living unassisted or what treatment or medication you require.
Must housing be made available to every person who is disabled?
NO. The law does not require that housing be made available to individuals whose tenancy would be a direct threat to the health and safety of others or whose tenancy would result in substantial damage to the property of others.
Must a landlord allow me to make reasonable modifications to an apartment or home?
YES. A landlord must allow you to make modifications to an apartment or home if the modifications are necessary for your full enjoyment of the premises. Some examples of necessary modifications include widening doors, lowering the height of light switches, and installing grab bars in bathrooms. Before altering an apartment or house, you must pay for the modifications yourself. Your landlord may require you to return the premises to their previous state, at your expense, when you move out.
Must a landlord modify the policies or rules of my apartment or condominium complex?
YES. A landlord must make reasonable changes in the policies or rules in order to provide you with equal opportunity to use and enjoy your home. For example, if you are visually impaired, you must be allowed a seeing eye dog even if your complex has a "no pets" policy.
Must new multi-family housing be accessible to disabled persons?
New multi-family housing with four or more units must meet accessibility standards under Federal Law. The law applies to most buildings with four or more units ready for occupancy after March 1991.
How do I complain if I think I am being discriminated against?
In San Jose, California call the Legal Aid Society of Santa Clara County's Fair Housing Project at (408) 283-1535, Ext. 237. Otherwise, consult your local bar association or yellow pages for attorneys and/or organizations that assist victims of housing discrimination
We can...
Mediate with the owner and/or manager.
Inform the owner and/or manager of the law.
Litigate a lawsuit on your behalf against the owner and/or manager.
Your rights include...
A completed and signed rental application.
Job, credit, banking, current and prior residence, and personal references.
The names of all people who will occupy the premises and the ages of those named on the lease to determine that they are of legal age.
A credit report.
Reasonable income in relation to rent charged.
A security deposit. The law allows up to two months rent for unfurnished rentals and up to three months for furnished ones. There is no such thing as a non-refundable deposit.
You Have The Right To Accept The Best Qualified Prospective Tenant.
As the landlord, you have the right to...
Timely rental payments.
Proper care of the property.
Maintenance needs reported promptly.
Respect for the rights of other tenants.
Proper notice when vacating.
Supervision of children, guests and pets.
Notification of any changes in tenant occupancy.
What is fair housing?
Federal and State laws require you to treat all applicants equally. Applicants for housing can not be treated differently because of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, martial status, age, disability, or sexual orientation. These laws also prohibit sexual harassment in housing and discrimination against families with children. The laws cover advertising, thus ads which express a preference for, or exclusion of, a particular group of people are illegal.
Suggestions for successful renting to families with children.
You can not charge families higher rent or security deposits than other tenants. You also can not impose age limits, segregate families with children to certain areas of the complex, or impose unreasonable restrictions on children's activities.

A good guideline is to follow for occupancy limits is the state standard that suggests two people per bedroom plus one extra person. It could be reasonable to allow more people to occupy a unit, but it is usually not reasonable to require less.
Use good management practices to prevent discrimination problems.
Be consistent, fair, and reasonable. Make sure all rental policies are applied equally. Provide your managers with fair housing training.
Provide accurate and complete information about available units to all people who inquire.
Do not inquire about the race, age, marital status, gender, sexual orientation, etc. of applicants.
Consider all applicants on a business basis only. Accept the first application which meets all of your selection requirements. If an application is denied, keep a record of the reasons for denial.
Avoid words like "Adult or Mature Couple, Professional, Executive or Family Home" in your ads. Describe the property features instead. Use the HUD Equal Opportunity logo in your advertising.
Legal Aid Society provides for property owners within the City of San Jose.
Management Training
Fair Housing Education
Community Outreach
Landlord and Tenant Counseling
Conflict Resolution

The purpose of this page is to provide general information about the law, which is subject to change. In San Jose, California call the Legal Aid Society of Santa Clara County's Fair Housing Project at (408) 283-1535, Ext. 237. Otherwise, consult your local bar association or yellow pages for attorneys and/or organizations that assist victims of housing discrimination.