HOA Homefront: California now has Fair Housing regulations – and sexual harassment is illegal

The federal Housing and Urban Development Department (HUD) adopted regulations in September 2016 which for the first time prohibited sexual harassment within housing accommodations. “Housing accommodations” in this context includes homeowner associations. These regulations thus far have not received widespread attention, but in California this will change soon.

In August 2018 the California Fair Employment and Housing Council approved Fair Housing regulations, providing the first written enforcement guidelines to help associations comply and avoid exposure to state or private discrimination claims. The new state regulations will take effect on Jan. 1 or April 1, 2019, after some further rule-making process, and will be found at California Code of Regulations 12000-12271.

The inaugural regulations do not address all Fair Housing issues but are informative regarding accommodation of disabilities and assistance animals, and also bring a new requirement by echoing the HUD regulations (as California must) by requiring housing providers to reasonably respond to sexual harassment against residents.

Sexual harassment was previously considered only as an employment issue, and its two varieties – unwanted sexual advances and hostile environment- have both long been illegal in the workplace.