Fair Housing Rights of Tenants with Mental Health Disabilities for Landlords

Does the law protect people with disabilities from housing discrimination?

Yes. A person with a disability in California has the right under state and federal law, to be free from discrimination in the sale or rental of housing. For example, a housing provider may not refuse to rent or sell to a person because they have a mental or physical disability. This applies to housing providers like landlords and owners. It also applies to realtors, homeowners associations, and governmental entities like local zoning groups.

Which housing providers must comply with anti-discrimination laws?

The laws against discrimination apply to sellers and providers of public housing. The laws against discrimination also apply to private landlords, except for landlords who own a single-family home, live in that home, and rent out only one room. Landlords who meet the exception cannot make discriminatory statements and the other fair housing laws do not apply to them.

Is my tenant protected from discrimination as a “person with a disability” ?

Your tenant is protected if they:

It is also illegal to discriminate against a tenant if they are connected with someone who has a disability. A person is not protected if they would present a direct threat to the health or safety of other people or cause physical damage to the property of others. But, the person is protected if a reasonable accommodation would end the risk.

What are examples of housing discrimination?

Examples of housing discrimination are:

Examples of discrimination by local governments include:


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English version: http://fs12.formsite.com/disabilityrightsca/form54/index.html

Spanish version: http://fs12.formsite.com/disabilityrightsca/form55/index.html


The California Mental Health Services Authority (CalMHSA) is an organization of county governments working to improve mental health outcomes for individuals, families and communities.  Prevention and Early Intervention programs implemented by CalMHSA are funded by counties through the voter-approved Mental Health Services Act (Prop 63).  Prop. 63 provides the funding and framework needed to expand mental health services to previously underserved populations and all of California’s diverse communities.

California Mental Health Service Authority (CalMHSA) Logo Image.

Federal fair housing laws include the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988, 42 U.S.C. §§3601 et seq., Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (covering housing under programs that receive federal financial assistance, such as the Section 8/Housing Choice Vouchers program), and Title 11 of the Americans with Disabilities Act (covering housing operated by the state or local government). State laws include the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, Government Code §§12900 et seq., and the Unruh Act, Civil Code §§51 et seq.

The California Fair Employment and Housing Act uses the term “handicap” instead of “disability,” but the meaning is the same.

Under federal law, the impairment must be “substantial,” but this is interpreted broadly.