Disability status and source of income


This is the ninth episode of our new video series covering Implicit bias principles and provides an overview of our new DRE-approved system continuing education (CE) requirements that apply to real estate agents and brokers whose license expires on or after January 1, 2023.

This episode is about fighting discrimination in a tenant’s disability status and source of income. The previous episode covers take extra steps to help historically marginalized people buyers are eligible for a mortgage.

Avoiding Top Fair Housing Complaints

As guardians to homeownership, REALTORS® are in a unique position to help close the homeownership gap and ensure quality rental housing for historically marginalized groups.

One of the biggest mistakes when trying to level the playing field for all groups is pretending to be blind to all differences (eg, “color blindness”).

A more effective approach recognizes and honors differences in others, creating empathy


With greater understanding, individuals can become aware of their own biases, reject stereotypes, and embrace each individual’s unique background and experiences.

The largest number of fair housing complaints received each year in California – by far – concern state of disability. [Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). (2022) 2020 Annual Report.]

California law defines disability

as a mental or physical impairment, disorder or condition that limits a major life activity, such as work, physical and social activities. This includes medical diagnoses such as HIV/AIDS and cancer. [Calif. Government Code §12926.1(c)]

For example, consider a rental applicant with a disability who needs a service dog, but the rental unit they are applying for does not allow pets. Although the no-pets rule applies to all tenants and is not discriminatory on its face, the landlord Maybe not refuse to rent accommodation to a tenant on the grounds that he is disabled and use:

  • guide doga guide dog trained by a licensed person to assist a blind person;
  • signal dog, trained to alert a deaf or hard of hearing person to intruders or sounds; Where
  • service dogtrained to assist a physically disabled person with protective work, pulling a wheelchair or retrieving fallen objects. [Calif. Civil Code 54.1(b)(6)]

Additionally, landlords cannot charge additional rent or a security deposit to tenants with authorized service, guide, or signal dogs. [CC §54.2(a)]

Related article:

New California law requires low-income rental property owners to allow pets

Equal Opportunity Denied

A landlord who refuses to make reasonable accommodations to allow a person with a disability to the equality of chances to use and enjoy their accommodation – for example by denying them accommodation because of the use of a service dog – is guilty of practicing unlawful discrimination. When the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) investigates and finds that the owner has unlawfully discriminated, the DFEH may require the owner to:

  • provide accommodation that was previously denied;
  • pay monetary compensation for any loss or even emotional distress;
  • follow mandatory one-time or regular training to prevent future discriminatory acts;
  • pay fees, penalties, fines; and
  • monitored to avoid future discrimination. [Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). (2020) Disability Discrimination Fact Sheet.]

Another discriminatory activity for which the DFEH receives a high number of complaints is discrimination based on source of income


From 2020 government housing vouchers – such as Section 8 vouchers

– are considered a tenant’s source of income in California, and are therefore a protected status. In other words, California landlords cannot choose to deny housing to a tenant based on their use of housing vouchers. Additionally, due to the tenant’s source of income, landlords cannot:

  • announce a preference or limitation for certain sources of income;
  • refuse an application;
  • charge a deposit or higher rent;
  • treat the tenant differently in any way;
  • refuse to renew the lease;
  • terminate the lease;
  • lying about the availability of accommodation;
  • require additional terms or rules on the rental; Where
  • restrict tenant’s access to property facilities or services. [Gov C §12927]

Tenants or applicants who believe they have been discriminated against may file a complaint with the DFEH. DFEH will investigate and attempt to resolve the complaint. However, where the complaint cannot be resolved, the DFEH may take legal action against the landlord seeking monetary compensation.

Related article:

Letter to the Editor: How does an owner enforce a contract under Section 8?

Editor’s note – first tuesday was one of the first schools in California to gain DRE approval for the new implicit bias training and expanded fair housing course.

To register, go to the order page.

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