Frequently Asked Questions

 

If you are a tenant, and you suspect that your landlord, the manager, or the apartment complex (or even a homeowners’ association) is mistreating you, then you may be the victim of housing discrimination.  If you are truly a victim of housing discrimination, then a housing discrimination lawyer may be able to do a number of things for you.  For starters, a housing discrimination lawyer may be able to stop the housing discrimination at your apartment complex or in your homeowners’ association.  Next, a housing discrimination lawyer may be able to get compensation for your damages or injuries.  Third, a housing discrimination lawyer may be able to get a court order that requires your landlord and/or the apartment manager to go to fair housing training, so that future tenants (including yourself) are less likely to suffer from housing discrimination.  Further, a housing discrimination lawyer may be able to get your landlord to post the necessary notices at your apartment complex that will notify tenants what to do if there is a problem with potential housing discrimination issues.

May My Children Play Outside?

The short answer is “yes,” but with reasonable limitations. For example, let’s say that you live in an apartment in Los Angeles (or San Diego or Fresno for that matter) and your landlord forbids children from playing outside under any circumstances, then that restriction likely would be unlawful. In fact, if your landlord places any type of restriction on children’s play, then it will be required to meet a very tough burden under the law before a court will agree that the restriction is lawful. If you would like to discuss your particular situation, then, please, feel free to contact us.  Please note that excuses such as, “Everyone has to be quite because some of our tenants work graveyard shift” and “You agreed to this when you signed the lease” are typically excuses covering up discrimination.

What Are Tenants’ Rights?

First, when someone refers to tenants’ rights (or a tenant’s rights), they normally are referring to laws that protect tenants from mistreatment (or illegal treatment) by a landlord or a management company.  As you can see from this site, tenants’ rights include the right to be free from discriminatory treatment in the housing context.  That is, tenants have the right to select an apartment or home of their choice without regard to their race, color, religion, etc.  Tenants also have the right to not be subject to rules that treat them differently from other tenants.  For example, some apartment complexes try to require all tenants with children to live in a certain section of the apartment complex (typically in the back of the complex).  This is illegal.  Further, tenants have the right to not be improperly threatened with eviction.  For example, many managers threaten parents that they will be evicted if their children are caught playing outside at the apartment complex.  So whether you live in a big city like Los Angeles or San Francisco, or in a small city, like Poway or La Mesa, realize that you, as a tenant, have rights that your landlord cannot violate.  If you feel like your landlord or the apartment manager is treating you differently, then give us a call.  We’d be happy to discuss your concern with you.

What Should I Do If the Manager or the Maintenance Person is Sexually Harassing Me?

First and foremost, call the police and report it.  Sexual harassment takes many forms: sexual comments, unwanted advances, “accidental” touching of your body, requests for sexual favors, demands for sex (e.g., in return for a portion of your rent being forgiven or permitting you to be late on your rent), videotaping your bedroom, etc.  Regardless of the form it takes, sexual harassment is illegal under the Fair Housing Act.  Sadly, if you are a victim of sexual harassment, then it is more likely that your neighbors are also experiencing sexual harassment, for sexual predators do not typically sexually harass only one person.  If you would like to confidentially discuss your situation, then please call us.  No one is required to put up with sexual harassment, particularly not a tenant.

May I Display a Religious Sign in My Apartment Window?

It depends. Whether you live in Fresno or San Diego or Oakland or Sacramento, if the landlord allows other tenants to display signs in their windows (these signs do not have to be other religious signs), then the landlord cannot forbid you from placing a religious sign in your window. Often landlords have size limitations for signs, so check to see if your sign meets the size limitations. If you are unsure whether your landlord has size limitations for signs, then contact us about reviewing your apartment’s rules and regulations, and we will see if it does. If your landlord is discriminating against you because of the religious content of your sign, and we accept your case, then we will fiercely fight on your behalf, for fair housing laws protect your right to freedom of religion.  Put simply, your landlord or the apartment manager cannot allow one tenant to put up a “Go Dodgers!” sign and forbid you from putting up a “He is Risen!” sign.

I Am Afraid That the Landlord Will Evict Me If I Complain about Discrimination, So What Can I Do?

Many tenants rightly fear being evicted if they complain about housing discrimination. As such, they hesitate to complain about their landlord’s discriminatory treatment. If that is your situation, then we would love to talk with you and discuss with you how the law will protect you if you do complain. If you do choose to do something about the unlawful treatment, then know that we will fiercely defend you from any and all retaliation. It is illegal and we will not stand for it.

What Good Does it Do for Me to Complain about Housing Discrimination?

First things first: no one should have to put up with housing discrimination. There are many laws that protect: 1) tenants; 2) people looking for an apartment (i.e., potential tenants) or home; and 3) home owners. So if you are being discriminated against, then we want to make sure that your rights under the law are being protected. Next, if we accept your case, then we will talk with you about how your case can make a difference at your apartment complex and any other apartment complex owned by your landlord. In short, your case may be instrumental in assuring that others similarly situated to you are treated fairly under the law in the years ahead. In a nutshell, your case can bring about social change.  What is more, you may receive monetary compensation for the injuries that you have suffered as a result of the unlawful discrimination.  Taking a stand against housing discrimination takes courage; we are here to stand with you.

Are Children Supervision Requirements Legal?

Often times children supervision requirements are unlawful, for they are too restrictive. Thus if your landlord or the apartment manager has a rule that states that all children must be supervised by an adult when they are outside of the apartment, then most courts will find that rule to be unlawful, for it is too restrictive. But what about a requirement that children 12 and under be supervised? Is that rule legal?  That rule, too, may be unlawful.  Put simply, if your landlord is forbidding your children from being outside unless they are supervised by an adult, then this should be a red flag that something is probably wrong.  Other apartment managers often try to tell tenants with children that they need to bring their kids to the park.  This, too, is often a way to cover up discrimination against children.  The United States Supreme Court has stated that the whole community is a victim of housing discrimination when a single person is subject to discriminatory housing practices.  In other words, if the manager of your apartment complex is discriminating against your children, then the whole community is being victimized by that act of discrimination.  We are here to put an end to discrimination in apartment complexes and homeowners’ associations.

Do Families with Small Children Have to Live in Downstairs Apartments?

No. Families with small children are free to live anywhere in an apartment complex–upstairs or downstairs. So if your landlord is telling you otherwise, then the landlord is breaking the law.  Plain and simple.  Often times landlords who violate this rule will claim that they have this rule for the safety of children.  This reason is not good enough under the law.  So if your landlord tells you that you and your children have to live downstairs, then realize that you have likely become the victims of housing discrimination.  And just as it would be illegal for a landlord to tell you that you could not live in an apartment because of your race or national origin, so, too, a landlord cannot tell you where you can and cannot live because you have children.

May My Landlord Have a Curfew for Children?

Clearly, if a curfew applies solely to children, then it is discriminatory on its face and it impacts children’s fundamental right to free movement. Such a curfew should be found to violate the federal Fair Housing Act.  Put simply, a manager can’t have a curfew that forces only children to go inside at a certain hour, even if the curfew sounds reasonable.  For example, a 10 p.m. curfew for children would be illegal, even if most parents would not let their children be out after 10 p.m.  Why is it likely illegal?  Because there is no similar restriction on adults.  An apartment complex cannot have rules that solely apply to children.

Have You Experienced Housing Discrimination?

If you are looking for a new place to call home and the landlord or the manager refuses to rent to you because of: 1) your religion; 2) the fact that you have children (under 18 years of age); 3) your race; 4) your color; 5) your national origin; 6) you are pregnant; or 7) you are disabled, then you may have experienced housing discrimination under the federal Fair Housing Act.  California law adds additional protected classes, so if you are in doubt, then give us a call.

If you believe that you may have experienced housing discrimination while looking for a new place to call home, then, please, call us. Within a few minutes, we will be able to tell you if we believe that you have experienced housing discrimination.  We handle housing discrimination cases against landlords and apartment complexes from San Diego to Los Angeles to Bakersfield to San Francisco, and beyond.  Put simply, we don’t put up with unlawful housing discrimination wherever it occurs, and neither should you.

Can My Landlord Threaten to Evict Me Because My Children Are Too Loud?

Children are allowed to make a reasonable amount of noise, just as adults are allowed to make a reasonable amount of noise. Some landlords, however, seem to be of the belief that children must be as quiet as a church mouse. If your landlord’s complaint sounds reasonable, then talk with your children about the matter, for nobody wants to listen to noisy neighbors. But if your landlord’s complaints sound ridiculous, then talk with a lawyer about the matter, for it may be a sign that your landlord is discriminating against you and your children.  Frequently, landlords will claim that they need your children to be quiet because one of the other tenants works graveyard.  In short, a landlord may not restrict your children’s rights to make a reasonable amount of noise because one of the other tenants chooses to work a late shift.

How do I Know if I Have Been a Victim of Housing Discrimination?

Most of the times, you won’t realize that you have been a victim of housing discrimination. But something likely will stir in your gut and tell you that what has happened to you does not seem right. In those cases, if you will contact us, then we’ll discuss your matter with you, free of charge, to see if you have been the victim of housing discrimination.  We’ll then explain your options to you.

What Should I Do If I Think That I Have Been the Victim of Housing Discrimination?

First, keep any written notices that you have received from your landlord, including any letters, texts, or notices threatening you with eviction or with fines. Next, locate your lease and a copy of the apartment rules and regulations. Third, make a list of other tenants (and their contact information) who may know about the discriminatory treatment. Finally, contact a lawyer who is familiar with the fair housing laws. If you would like to contact us, then you may either email us or call us at (858) 220-9601.

Would You Accept My Case If I Cannot Afford to Pay?

If we accept your case, and you cannot afford to pay, then we will talk to you about taking your case on a contingency fee basis. If we take your case on a contingency fee basis, then you will not have to pay anything until your case is either settled or we prevail after trial. We would be more than happy to talk with you about your case, whether you can presently afford a lawyer or not.  So don’t let that get in the way.

Can a Landlord Forbid Children from Skateboarding, Riding Bikes, and Playing at Our Complex?

Many landlords and apartment managers attempt to limit the activity of children by simply forbidding playing at the complex altogether. These types of rules may be illegal. What courts look to with these types of rules is the impact of the rule. If the rule has a significantly disproportionate impact upon one protected group of individuals (for example, children), then the rule will be found to be unlawful. For example, if there is a rule that forbids all tenants from riding bicycles, skateboarding, skating, and playing with balls, then that rule will have a significantly disproportionate impact upon children. For children are the ones who ride bikes, skateboard, skate, and play with balls.  Courts also will look at how your landlord enforces its rules.  If the landlord only enforces a rule against children, and not against adults, then the court will likely find that the landlord has discriminated in the enforcement of its own rules.  So if there is a rule that forbids bike riding, but adults are permitted to ride their bikes freely, while children are told not to ride their bikes at all, then this would be a case of discriminatory enforcement of the rule.

Do My Children Have to Go to the Park If They Want to Play?

In most cases, no. While the landlord may place certain restrictions on activities at an apartment complex, most of the time the landlord may not completely forbid children from playing at the complex. If your landlord or the apartment manager is telling you that your children must play at the park, then you may be the victim of housing discrimination.  Again, we encourage you to pick up the telephone (or send us a quick email) and contact us, for there is no charge for such an inquiry.

What If I Agreed to the Discrimination in the Lease?

Just because you signed a lease that said, for example, “Children cannot play outside,” it does not make that portion of the lease lawful. Put simply, if you think that a certain rule is illegal, then contact us, and we’ll let you know if we believe that it is unlawful.  In short, you don’t have to live with illegal rules.  All too often, tenants mistakenly believe that they have no rights because they knew about the discriminatory treatment when they signed their leases.  That simply is not true.

Can We Have a Bible Study at Our Apartment Complex?

If your landlord allows others to have visitors, then your landlord likely cannot forbid you from having a Bible study at your apartment. Your landlord can, however, have reasonable noise restrictions for all tenants, so if you are making excessive noise during your Bible study (for example, with loud music), then your landlord can ask you to keep your noise level to reasonable limits. But an out-and-out prohibition against a Bible study likely would violate several laws, including the Fair Housing Act.  Be careful here, though, for landlords and apartment managers sometimes try to limit how many visitors that you can have at one time.  Sometimes this can be a disguise for discriminatory treatment.  Again, if you gut is telling you something is wrong, then pick up the phone and call us.

Do You Take Apartment or Housing Discrimination Cases in Fresno or Clovis?

Yes, we take housing discrimination cases in Fresno and Clovis, and anywhere else in the State of California.  Put simply, one of our goals is to help tenants who are facing housing discrimination, regardless if they live in San Diego, San Jose, Pasadena, San Francisco, Irvine, Huntington Beach, Blythe, or Bakersfield.  Put simply, tenants have rights, and we are here to ensure that landlords and their apartment managers respect tenants’ rights.

Are Mobile Home Parks Exempt From the Fair Housing Laws?

No, not at all.  The Fair Housing Act is very broad.  So if you believe that you are facing discrimination in your mobile home park, then feel free to contact us.  There is nothing worse than living within a mobile home park that thinks it is exempt from fair housing laws.

May a Housing Community Be Limited to People 55 Years of Age and Older?

Yes, it may, but there are a few rules that an over 55 years of age community must meet before it can discriminate against families with children.  First and foremost, at least 80% of the households must have at least one person living in them who are over 55 years of age, otherwise, the community is not what the law terms “housing for older persons,” and would not be allowed to discriminate against families with children.  If it does discriminate against families with children, and it does not meet the legal requirements to be deemed housing for older persons, then it is in danger of violating the fair housing laws.

What Should I Do If I’m Late on My Rent?

The first thing that you want to do if you are late on your rent (or if you know that you are going to be late on your rent payment) is to let your landlord know that you are late (or that you are going to be late).  Although a landlord is not obligated to necessarily work with you, most landlords are willing to work with you if it looks like you have a real solution for the problem.  For example, if you have recently been injured at work, and there is a delay in getting your disability check, then your landlord may be willing to allow you a little extra time to pay.  Put simply, your landlord rents apartments to make money.  If the apartment is vacant, then the landlord does not make any money.  So landlords may be willing to work with you, particularly if you give your landlord advance notice, for what most landlords really want are tenants who timely pay their rent.  If your landlord, however, seems completely unrealistic, then this may be a symptom of discriminatory treatment.  If that is the sense that you are getting, then pick up the phone and call a housing discrimination lawyer.

If I Have Already Been Evicted, Do I Have Any Right to Go Back and Sue the Landlord for Housing Discrimination?

More than likely you do have the right to sue your landlord even after you have been evicted.  There are some technical issues that may come up, but don’t hesitate to seek legal help if you feel as though your landlord discriminated against you before evicting you.  To be candid, the very eviction itself may have been a discriminatory act.  But don’t wait to take action, for the law limits how long you have to file a lawsuit for discrimination.

What Should I Do If My Landlord Has Filed An Unlawful Detainer (Eviction Lawsuit) Against Me, But I Have Not Yet Gone to Trial?

If your landlord is trying to evict you, and you suspect your landlord of unlawful housing discrimination, then contact a lawyer immediately.  If you already been evicted, then you may still have the right to sue for housing discrimination.  Feel free to pick up the phone and give us a call in either situation.

Are There Different Laws for Apartment Discrimination Matters From Housing Discrimination Matters?

No, the same laws against housing discrimination apply to apartments, houses, condos, mobile homes, and any other dwelling.  So whether you live in a condo in Alameda or a beachfront home in Del Mar or an apartment in San Marcos, the same laws prevent landlords from discriminating against tenants.  Justice is all about everyone being treated equally.

Is it Legal for a Landlord to Evict a Tenant for No Reason?

Often landlords or their apartment managers tell tenants that they don’t have to give tenants a reason for evicting them.  This is partially true, but it doesn’t mean that they can evict a tenant for a discriminatory reason.  While a landlord does not have to state a reason for an eviction in the Thirty-Day Notice to Terminate Tenancy (or Sixty-Day Notice to Terminate Tenancy if you’ve been a tenant for at least a year), it does not mean that the landlord can evict, for example, a family with children because the kids are supposedly too loud.  But that is exactly what happens all the time.  The kids are being kids, the resident manager gets sick of it, and so he or she gives the tenant a blank 30-Day Notice to Terminate the Tenancy.  The tenant goes to the office, asks the manager why he or she was given the notice, and the manager says, “I don’t have to give you a reason.”  That type of housing discrimination is wrong whether you live in Santa Monica, Whittier, Sacramento, Fresno, Riverside, Ramona, or Temecula.  In sum, a landlord can evict a tenant, but not for an unlawful reason.  So if you suspect that your landlord is attempting to cover up the real reason for evicting you, then give us a call.

Is There Such a Thing as an Apartment Discrimination Lawyer?

Technically, there is no such thing as an apartment discrimination lawyer.  A lawyer who handles cases involving discrimination by apartment complexes is known to practice in the area of fair housing litigation.  Attorney Stuart Fagan has been handling housing discrimination cases since 1998.