October 16, 2017

What Are My Housing Rights?

right to housingAccording to the Universal Declaration on Human Rights (Article 25(1), 1948): Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control. (Emphasis ours)

Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, as amended, is known as the Fair Housing Act. The Fair Housing Act makes it illegal to discriminate in any type of housing related transaction on the basis of race, sex, religion, national origin, color, if you have children under the age of 18, or if you are disabled. In the state of California it is also illegal to discriminate against anyone because of marital status, ancestry, sexual orientation, source of income and arbitrary reasons. Check your state and local laws. These are referred to as the protected classes.

Every resident of the United States has a fundamental right to fair housing. This cannot be denied because you are a member of one or more of the protected classes. We want you to know how to recognize the signs of housing discrimination. Much discrimination today is subtle and happens “with a smile and a handshake.” We want you to know how you are protected and what to do if you believe you have been a victim of housing discrimination. Call Housing Rights, Inc. at 1800-261-2298 if you have any questions and you live in Alameda or Contra Costa County California. If you live somewhere else, go to the page that lists fair housing and legal services from all over the county.

Federal and California State fair housing laws assure you the right to be treated ‘fairly’ in all housing related transactions. That is, to be treated according to your ability to pay, your history of being a ‘good housing consumer’, and when applicable, your history of being a good neighbor. And not to be treated differently because of your race, color, religion, sex, national origin, familial status, disability (federal law), marital status, ancestry, sexual orientation, source of income, other arbitrary reasons (State of California).

Most states and sometimes local jurisdictions have laws which assure you the right to live in a safe, and secure rental unit. These laws often include the following:

  • You have a right to live without harrassment.
  • You have the right to excercise your rights without retaliation.

These laws set out the framework of the relationship between landlord and tenant. It is important that you understand your rights and responsibilities whether you are a tenant or a landlord. We provide detailed information about these rights and responsibilities in our What We Do section.

For more details:

Please check with your local legal service or fair housing agency or local jurisdiction (City, County or State) to find out exactly what your housing rights laws are. We have included a list of fair housing agencies and legal service agencies from around the country for your convenience. Please note that it is a very large file (373 kb) and may slow down your computer’s performance. This list is not updated.

IN ADDITION TO THESE housing rights, a few local jurisdictions also have laws controlling rents and evictions. In California these local jurisdictions are located on the page: Rent Control Jurisdictions