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City of San Jose Enacts Housing Payment Equality Ordinance

Effective September 27, 2019, the San Jose Housing Payment Equality Ordinance prohibits discrimination against housing voucher holders who apply for rental housing in San José. The ordinance enables applicants who receive financial assistance to be considered in an equal manner to all other applicants. The ordinance is intended to expand housing opportunities for voucher holders, many of whom have previously faced discrimination.

The ordinance defines source of income as “all lawful sources of income or rental assistance from any Federal, State, local or non-profit administered benefit or subsidy program including, but not limited to, the Section 8 Voucher Program.”

Prohibited Activities by Landlords

  • To interrupt, terminate, fail or refuse to initiate the rental of real property based on an individual or household’s source of income; or
  • To falsely represent that an interest in real property is not available for rent, lease, or tenancy based on an individual or household’s source of income; or
  • To require different terms for such transaction based on an individual or household’s source of income, unless those terms are lawfully required by the particular source of income; or
  • To include in the terms or conditions of a transaction in real property any clause, condition, or restriction based on an individual or household’s source of income, unless such terms or conditions are lawfully required by the particular source of income; or
  • To refuse or restrict facilities, services, repairs or improvements for any current or prospective tenant or lessee based upon an individual’s or household’s source of income; or
  • To in any way make, print, or publish, advertise or disseminate any notice, statement, or advertisement involving the rental of real property that unlawfully indicates preference, limitation, or discrimination based on an individual or household’s source of income; or
  • To use a financial or income standard in assessing eligibility for the rental of housing that is not based upon the portion of the rent to be paid by the tenant.

Properties Covered

  • All rental properties
  • Single-family homes exempt when landlord lives in home

Mechanisms of Enforcement

  • The San José Housing Department may issue an administrative citation after providing a warning.
  • The City Attorney’s Office may bring civil action in Superior Court against a repeat violator.
  • An individual may bring a civil action again a landlord if they notify the San José Housing Department of an alleged violation and the Department determines there is no ability to cure the violation.

The law firm of Ruzicka, Wallace & Coughlin, LLP represents landlords, property management companies, institutional and private lenders, employers and insurance companies throughout the State of California in real estate, business and employment litigation. The information provided herein is for general interest only and should not be relied upon or construed as legal advice.

October 5, 2019 | Landlord-Tenant Law |