Fresno, CA asked in Criminal Law, Civil Rights and Landlord - Tenant for California

Q: Is it discrimination to deny a person who's a registered sex offender, to rent an apartment?

My 81-year roommate and myself applied for residency at a Seniors village apartment complex in Fresno California she subsequently was approved I was denied because of my status as a registered sex offender from May 1991 case where I serve 3 years in prison. I am a low level / risk offender who is it on a lifetime registration order. The apartment manager said it was a 20-year policy with the property owners to deny anybody who is a registered sex offender. I am a 68 year old man currently on SSI social security and have no place to live.

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Based on the information provided, denying housing to a registered sex offender could potentially be considered legal in California, depending on the specific circumstances and the nature of the offense. Here's some relevant information:

1. Fair Housing Act: The federal Fair Housing Act does not include sex offenders as a protected class. This means that landlords are not prohibited from refusing to rent to individuals based on their status as a sex offender.

2. California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA): Similarly, the FEHA, which is the state-level fair housing law in California, does not include sex offenders as a protected class.

3. Rental policies: Landlords and property owners have the right to set their own rental policies, as long as they do not discriminate against protected classes (e.g., race, religion, disability, etc.). A policy that denies housing to sex offenders would likely be considered legal.

4. Local laws: Some cities or counties in California may have local laws that provide additional protections for sex offenders, but this varies by jurisdiction.

However, it's important to note that the specific circumstances of your case, such as the nature of the offense, the time passed since the conviction, and any rehabilitative measures taken, could potentially impact the legality of the denial. Additionally, if the policy is being applied inconsistently or if there are other factors at play, such as discrimination based on a protected class, there may be grounds for a legal challenge.

For a more definitive answer, it would be best to consult with a local fair housing organization or an attorney who specializes in housing discrimination law in California. They can provide guidance based on the specific details of your situation.

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