Amended in Assembly April 30, 2015

Amended in Assembly April 21, 2015

California Legislature—2015–16 Regular Session

Assembly BillNo. 396


Introduced by Assembly Member Jones-Sawyer

February 19, 2015


An act to amend Section 12955 of, and to add Section 12955.05 to, the Government Code, relating to rental housing.

LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL’S DIGEST

AB 396, as amended, Jones-Sawyer. Rental housing discrimination: applications: criminal records.

Existing law generally prohibits housing discrimination with respect to the personal characteristics of race, color, religion, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, ancestry, familial status, source of income, disability, or genetic information.

This bill would make it unlawful for the owner of any rental housing accommodation to deny the rental or lease of a housing accommodation without first satisfying specified requirements relating to the application process. The bill would prohibit the owner of a rental housing accommodation from inquiring about, or requiring an applicant for rental housing accommodation to disclose, a criminal record during the initial application assessment phase, as defined, unless otherwise required by state or federal law. The bill would permit an owner of a rental housing accommodation, after the initial application assessment phase, to request a criminal background check and consider an applicant’s criminal record in deciding whether to rent or lease. The bill would require the owner of a rental housing accommodation who is considering denying an application to rent or lease after requesting a criminal background check or considering an applicant’s criminal record,begin insert and the possible denial is based on the applicant’s criminal record,end insert to promptly provide the applicant with a written statement listing the reasons for the possible denial before making a final decision. If, within 14 days of receipt of the written statement, the applicant provides the owner notice of evidence demonstrating the inaccuracy of the item or items within the applicant’s criminal record or evidence of rehabilitation or other mitigating factors, as defined, the bill would require the owner to delay the denial for a reasonable period after receipt of the information and reconsider his or her decision. The bill would require, in these circumstances, that the owner provide written notification to the applicant of his or her final decision to deny the application. The bill would prohibit, in connection with a rental application, the owner of the rental housing accommodation from requiring disclosure of, or, if such information is received, denying a dwelling based in whole or in part on specified information or occurrence, including arrests that did not result in conviction, convictions that have been voided, and juvenile justice determinations, among others.

Vote: majority. Appropriation: no. Fiscal committee: yes. State-mandated local program: no.

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:

P2    1

SECTION 1.  

Section 12955 of the Government Code is
2amended to read:

3

12955.  

It shall be unlawful:

4(a) For the owner of any housing accommodation to discriminate
5against or harass any person because of the race, color, religion,
6sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation,
7marital status, national origin, ancestry, familial status, source of
8income, disability, or genetic information of that person.

9(b) For the owner of any housing accommodation to make or
10to cause to be made any written or oral inquiry concerning the
11race, color, religion, sex, gender, gender identity, gender
12expression, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin,
13ancestry, familial status, disability, or genetic information of any
P3    1person seeking to purchase, rent, or lease any housing
2 accommodation.

3(c) For any person to make, print, or publish, or cause to be
4made, printed, or published any notice, statement, or advertisement,
5with respect to the sale or rental of a housing accommodation that
6indicates any preference, limitation, or discrimination based on
7race, color, religion, sex, gender, gender identity, gender
8expression, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin,
9ancestry, familial status, source of income, disability, or genetic
10information or an intention to make that preference, limitation, or
11discrimination.

12(d) For any person subject to the provisions of Section 51 of
13the Civil Code, as that section applies to housing accommodations,
14to discriminate against any person on the basis of sex, gender,
15gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, color, race,
16religion, ancestry, national origin, familial status, marital status,
17 disability, genetic information, source of income, or on any other
18basis prohibited by that section. Selection preferences based on
19age, imposed in connection with a federally approved housing
20program, do not constitute age discrimination in housing.

21(e) For any person, bank, mortgage company or other financial
22institution that provides financial assistance for the purchase,
23organization, or construction of any housing accommodation to
24discriminate against any person or group of persons because of
25the race, color, religion, sex, gender, gender identity, gender
26expression, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin,
27ancestry, familial status, source of income, disability, or genetic
28information in the terms, conditions, or privileges relating to the
29obtaining or use of that financial assistance.

30(f) For any owner of housing accommodations to harass, evict,
31or otherwise discriminate against any person in the sale or rental
32of housing accommodations when the owner’s dominant purpose
33is retaliation against a person who has opposed practices unlawful
34under this section, informed law enforcement agencies of practices
35believed unlawful under this section, has testified or assisted in
36any proceeding under this part, or has aided or encouraged a person
37to exercise or enjoy the rights secured by this part. Nothing herein
38is intended to cause or permit the delay of an unlawful detainer
39action.

P4    1(g) For any person to aid, abet, incite, compel, or coerce the
2doing of any of the acts or practices declared unlawful in this
3section, or to attempt to do so.

4(h) For any person, for profit, to induce any person to sell or
5rent any dwelling by representations regarding the entry or
6prospective entry into the neighborhood of a person or persons of
7a particular race, color, religion, sex, gender, gender identity,
8gender expression, sexual orientation, marital status, ancestry,
9disability, genetic information, source of income, familial status,
10or national origin.

11(i) For any person or other organization or entity whose business
12involves real estate-related transactions to discriminate against
13any person in making available a transaction, or in the terms and
14conditions of a transaction, because of race, color, religion, sex,
15gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation,
16marital status, national origin, ancestry, source of income, familial
17status, disability, or genetic information.

18(j) To deny a person access to, or membership or participation
19in, a multiple listing service, real estate brokerage organization,
20or other service because of race, color, religion, sex, gender, gender
21identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, marital status,
22ancestry, disability, genetic information, familial status, source of
23income, or national origin.

24(k) To otherwise make unavailable or deny a dwelling based
25on discrimination because of race, color, religion, sex, gender,
26gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, familial
27status, source of income, disability, genetic information, or national
28origin.

29(l) To discriminate through public or private land use practices,
30decisions, and authorizations because of race, color, religion, sex,
31gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation,
32familial status, marital status, disability, genetic information,
33national origin, source of income, or ancestry. Discrimination
34includes, but is not limited to, restrictive covenants, zoning laws,
35denials of use permits, and other actions authorized under the
36Planning and Zoning Law (Title 7 (commencing with Section
3765000)), that make housing opportunities unavailable.

38Discrimination under this subdivision also includes the existence
39of a restrictive covenant, regardless of whether accompanied by a
40statement that the restrictive covenant is repealed or void.

P5    1(m) As used in this section, “race, color, religion, sex, gender,
2gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, marital
3status, national origin, ancestry, familial status, source of income,
4disability, or genetic information,” includes a perception that the
5person has any of those characteristics or that the person is
6associated with a person who has, or is perceived to have, any of
7those characteristics.

8(n) To use a financial or income standard in the rental of housing
9that fails to account for the aggregate income of persons residing
10together or proposing to reside together on the same basis as the
11aggregate income of married persons residing together or proposing
12to reside together.

13(o) In instances where there is a government rent subsidy, to
14use a financial or income standard in assessing eligibility for the
15rental of housing that is not based on the portion of the rent to be
16paid by the tenant.

17(p) For the owner of any rental housing accommodations to
18deny the rental or lease of a housing accommodation without first
19satisfying the requirements of Section 12955.05, unless otherwise
20required by state or federal law.

21(q) (1) For the purposes of this section, “source of income”
22means lawful, verifiable income paid directly to a tenant or paid
23to a representative of a tenant. For the purposes of this section, a
24landlord is not considered a representative of a tenant.

25(2) For the purposes of this section, it shall not constitute
26discrimination based on source of income to make a written or
27oral inquiry concerning the level or source of income.

28

SEC. 2.  

Section 12955.05 is added to the Government Code,
29to read:

30

12955.05.  

(a) For purposes of this section:

31(1) “Criminal record” means criminal offender information, as
32defined in Section 13102 of the Penal Code or state summary
33criminal history information as defined in Section 11105 of the
34Penal Code.

35(2) “Evidence of rehabilitation or other mitigating factors”
36means, but is not limited to, the following:

37(A) A person’s satisfactory compliance with all terms and
38conditions of parole or probation, provided that the person’s
39inability to pay fines, fees, and restitution due to indigence shall
P6    1not be considered noncompliance with terms and conditions of
2parole or probation.

3(B) Employer recommendations, particularly a person’s
4postconviction employment.

5(C) Educational attainment or vocational or professional training
6since conviction, including training received while incarcerated.

7(D) Completion of or active participation in rehabilitative
8treatment, including alcohol or drug treatment.

9(E) Letters of recommendation from community organizations,
10counselors, case managers, teachers, community leaders, parole
11officers, and probation officers who have observed the person
12since his or her conviction.

13(F) A person’s familial relationship with a person who may be
14currently residing in the housing accommodation.

15(G) The age of the person at the time of the conviction.

16(H) Explanation of precedent coercive conditions, including
17physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, untreated substance abuse,
18or mental illness that contributed to the conviction.

19(3) “Initial application assessment phase” means the period
20before a decision is made to rent or lease, which shall include the
21request for, and the provision of, an application to a person seeking
22a rental housing accommodation and including the time during
23which the assessment of rental history and credit history, the
24checking of sources of income, and the scheduling an applicant
25interview routinely.

26(b) (1) It is an unlawful housing practice for the owner of a
27rental housing accommodation to inquire about, or to require an
28applicant for rental housing accommodation to disclose, a criminal
29record during the initial application assessment phase, unless
30otherwise required by state or federal law.

31(2) Following the initial application assessment phase, an owner
32of a rental housing accommodation may request a criminal
33background check and consider an applicant’s criminal record in
34deciding whether to rent or lease. If the owner of a rental housing
35accommodation is considering denying an application to rent or
36lease after requesting a criminal background check or considering
37an applicant’s criminal record,begin insert and the possible denial is based on
38the applicant’s criminal record,end insert
he or she shall promptly provide
39the applicant with a written statement listing the reasons for the
40possible denial before making a final decision.

P7    1(3) If, within 14 days of receipt of the written statement
2described in paragraph (2), the applicant provides the owner of
3the rental housing accommodation notice orally or in writing of
4evidence demonstrating the inaccuracy of the item or items within
5the applicant’s criminal record or evidence of rehabilitation or
6other mitigating factors, the owner of the housing accommodation
7shall delay the denial for a reasonable period after receipt of the
8information and reconsider his or her decision in light of the
9information. If, upon individualized assessment of the applicant’s
10criminal record and the evidence of rehabilitation and mitigating
11factors, the applicant still has an unacceptable criminal record,
12then the owner of the housing accommodation shall notify the
13applicant of his or her final decision to deny the application in
14writing.

15(c) With regard to an application for rental housing
16accommodations, the owner of the housing accommodation shall
17not require disclosure of, or, if such information is received, deny
18a dwelling based in whole or in part on the following:

19(1) A previous arrest that did not result in a conviction.

20(2) Participation in, or completion of, a diversion or a deferral
21of judgment program.

22(3) A conviction that has been judicially dismissed, expunged,
23voided, invalidated, or otherwise rendered inoperative, including,
24but not limited to, as is provided under Section 1203.4. 1203.4a,
25or 1203.41 of the Penal Code.

26(4) A determination or adjudication in the juvenile justice system
27or information regarding a matter considered in or processed
28through the juvenile justice system.

29(5) Information pertaining to an offense other than a felony or
30misdemeanor.



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