As the country continues to deal with Covid-19, there is not one aspect of our lives that remains untouched by the impact of the virus. Housing is no exception. In fact, certain types of housing discrimination and harassment have increased during the pandemic, and some tenants may be especially vulnerable during this time.
Under California law (Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and the Unruh Civil Rights Act (Unruh Act) and the Federal Fair Housing Act (FHA), tenants are protected from being discriminated by landlords when the tenants fall into categories or "protected classes." California prohibits discrimination against a tenant based on the following characteristics:
Because some people inaccurately associate Asian countries (especially China), with a role in generating and spreading the coronavirus, it has led to increased reports of discrimination and hate crimes against Asians and Asian Americans. Much of the mistreatment has involved refusal of services. This attitude can easily affect housing situations and can lead to discrimination. For instance, it is obviously unlawful for a landlord to refuse to make a necessary repair due to their fear of entering a tenant's apartment because the renter is Chinese, and the landlord is afraid of contracting the coronavirus.
The pandemic has caused a lot of worry and tension. Consequently, there are more accommodation requests from tenants with disabilities, wanting to have a support animal to help them cope with anxiety. Typically, landlords are required to make an exception to a no pets policy for support animals. A landlord who refuses such a request is discriminating against the renter based on their disability, unless the accommodation is unreasonable. It is considered unreasonable if the accommodation creates an undue financial or administrative burden on the landlord or fundamentally alters the nature of the housing. For example, if the animal is a dog who is untamed and poses a threat to other people.
San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, and other cities in the Bay Area have their own laws governing discrimination that have more extensive protections than the federal Fair Housing Act and the California laws. These laws encompass more categories of characteristics, including age.
The Covid-19 crisis has been very impactful for senior citizens. Older people are at a higher risk for developing complications. Seniors are also more vulnerable to from the virus, as compared to their younger counterparts. The elderly has more association with the Covid-19 which can lead to the perception that they have it or have been exposed. A landlord may feel more comfortable asking seniors more invasive questions, such as inquiring about whether they have Covid-19 and if they have been tested.
Discrimination is not only hurtful and humiliating, but it can also be difficult to prove. If you believe you're experiencing housing discrimination, get in touch with a tenants' rights lawyer today. At Wolford Wayne, we will hold your landlord responsible for their wrongdoing. Contact us today so we can assist you with the next steps.
Recovered on behalf of a San Francisco couple who were forced to give up their home of over twenty years after their landlord’s dog attacked and killed their dog.Read More
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Recovered on behalf of a couple living in a rent-controlled home in the outer Sunset neighborhood. Our clients were forced to vacate after the landlord served them with an Owner Move-In Eviction Notice. After the landlords failed to move into the property, our clients filed suit for wrongful eviction.Read More
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Recovered on behalf of an elderly long-term tenant who was forced to vacate her long San Francisco apartment as a result of her landlord’s refusal to address longstanding defective conditions, including lack of heat, mold, rodent infestations, and defective plumbing. Read More
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Recovered on behalf of a San Francisco family that was constructively evicted from their home in the Richmond District as a result of unlawful rent increases, defective conditions and tenant harassment.Read More
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Recovered in action for a group of tenants forced to vacate their San Francisco apartment house due to severe habitability defects including mold and water leaks.Read More