Fair Housing Resources
Leading the Way to End Housing Discrimination
BayLegal works to eliminate housing discrimination and to ensure equal housing opportunity for all people through advocacy, education and outreach. BayLegal represents people discriminated against in housing on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sex, religion, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression, family status, source of income or other protected class.
BayLegal launched three Fair Housing public service announcements produced by partner agency RYSE Youth Center of Richmond. Check them out here:
Fair Housing: Are You Being Discriminated Against?
It is illegal for a landlord to treat you differently because of any of the following: Race; National Origin; Religion; Sex; Sexual Orientation; Gender Identity and Gender Expression, Family Status; Disability; Age; Source of Income.
You may have experienced housing discrimination if a landlord has done any of the following actions based on the protected classes listed above:
- Discouraged you from looking at an apartment.
- Steered you to a different apartment complex.
- Made statements indicating a preference not to rent to you because of your race, marital status, age, disability, or because you have children.
- Told you that there are no vacancies when, in fact, there are.
- Refused to accommodate your disability.
- Imposed different rules for families with children.
- Retaliated against you with an eviction notice for objecting to being treated unfairly.
- Refused to rent to you because of your source of income.
If you are a victim of housing discrimination, you can get help. Please call our Legal Advice Line at 800-551-5554 for assistance with fair housing issues. Bay Area Legal Aid provides free legal help to qualified people with:
- Making complaints to government agencies;
- Investigating unfair treatment;
- Convincing landlords to follow the law; and
- Suing landlords in court, when necessary
How to File a Fair Housing Complaint
If you are experiencing housing discrimination, you have a right to file a fair housing complaint. You can file a complaint online, by mail, or by phone with
- The federal fair housing agency (HUD):
- The California fair housing agency (DFEH):
If you need assistance with filing a fair housing complaint, please call our Legal Advice Line at 800-551-5554.
Reasonable Accommodations / Reasonable Modifications
What does fair housing mean to persons with disabilities?
Fair housing laws give persons with disabilities protection from discrimination that they may encounter in housing related transactions, such as renting or buying a housing unit, obtaining mortgages or purchasing insurance. These laws also provide for accommodations and modifications that allow a disabled person equal access to services and housing.
What are “reasonable accommodations”?
Reasonable accommodations are changes in rules, policies, practices, and the way services are provided in order to ensure equal opportunity to fully enjoy one’s home. Examples of these changes would be waiving parking and ‘visitors’ fees for a person who has a home care aid, designating a disabled parking spot in front of a building, giving an oral reminder when rent is due to someone whose disability affects their memory, or allowing service animals despite a ‘no pets’ rule. There are typically no costs associated with reasonable accommodations.
What are “reasonable modifications”?
Reasonable modifications are physical changes made to a dwelling or common area to make the space accessible. Examples of reasonable modifications would be implementing a ramp in front of the entrance of the building, adding a handle bar in the shower, installing an automatic shut-off water faucet for someone who has a disability that allows them to forget to turn off the water, or installing pictures or color coded signs to help a person who has a cognitive disability and has difficulty with written signs.
Who is responsible to pay for “reasonable modifications”?
Payment will depend on the type of housing and laws that apply to it. If the landlord receives federal funds they may be responsible for the modification as long as it does not produce a great financial or administrative hardship. If a landlord is only subject to the Fair Housing Act they may not have to pay for the changes that are requested. However, the FHA requires new multi-family housing built for first occupancy after March 13, 1991 be accessible. Therefore, each case will differ.
How do I prove that I have a disability without releasing too much information?
Generally, a landlord may not ask you if you have a disability. Also, you may not be asked for information about yourself that relates to your disability unless you are seeking housing that is designated for persons with disabilities. However, a landlord may ask for proof if you ask for a reasonable accommodation or modification. This proof that you need the accommodation can come from a doctor but does not have to disclose details of the disability nor medical history or records.
How do I get an accommodation or modification?
A person with a disability must request an accommodation. As a tenant, you are responsible to specify the type of accommodation or modification needed. You should make the request in writing and make sure to keep a copy for yourself.
If your landlord refuses to grant your reasonable accommodation or reasonable modification request, it could be a violation of your fair housing rights.
Questions? Call BayLegal!
Our Legal Advice Line at 800-551-5554 can help direct you to information, referrals, or representation with fair housing issues. (Please note that we cannot guarantee representation).
Learn More About the Fair Housing Law by visiting
- the U.S. Department of Housing and Development at https://www.hud.gov/fairhousing
- the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing at https://www.dfeh.ca.gov/housing
For a sample reasonable accommodation letter that you can send yourself, please visit Disability Rights CA’s website:
The work that provided the basis for this publication was supported by funding under a grant with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The substance and findings of the work are dedicated to the public. The author and publisher are solely responsible for the accuracy of the statements and interpretations contained in this publication. Such interpretations do not necessarily reflect the views of the Federal Government.