Monday, March 6, 2017

Supervisors to consider "Income Discrimination" Law to apply to Roommates and Owner Occupied Apartment Owners.

Brian Crawford, Marin's Highly Paid Director of Community Development proposes a law against "Income Discrimination"
(like Section 8 Vouchers) to apply to roommates and owner occupied dwellings on March 7th.

On March 7th (tomorrow) the Supervisors will consider a Rental Housing Discrimination Code Amendment to eliminate an exception for owner-occupied structures.   The amendment would prohibit Owner Occupied Property Owners, who wish to rent their owner occupied property, from disseminating advertising materials expressing tenant preference based on a person's source of income (like Section 8 vouchers) This amendment would be important to home-owners who rent out a portion of their home, owner-occupied property owners who rent out a unit(s) in a structure containing fewer than three dwelling units, and Real Estate professionals.
It is our understanding that if the amendment is adopted the following provision would apply to the rental or leasing of any housing unit in which the owner or any member of his/her family occupies one of the living units and (1) it is necessary for the owner to use either a bathroom or kitchen facility common with the prospective tenant, or (2) the structure contains fewer than three dwelling units.  Currently, there is an exception for such owner occupied rentals.

"Chapter 5.53
Marin County Income-Based Rental Housing Discrimination
PROVISION 5.53.010 Housing
It is unlawful for any person to do any of the following as wholly or partially based on source of income:
1. To interrupt, terminate, or fail or refuse to initiate or conduct any transaction in real property, including, but not limited to, the rental thereof; to require different terms for such transaction; or falsely to represent that an interest in real property is not available for transaction;
2. To include in the terms or conditions of a transaction in real property any clause, condition, or restriction;
3. To refuse or restrict facilities, services, repairs or improvements for any tenant or lessee;
4. To make, print, publish, advertise or disseminate in any way, or cause to be made, printed or published, advertised, or disseminated in any way, any notice, statement or advertisement with respect to a tranaction in real property, or with respect to financing related to any such transaction, which unlawfully indicates preference, limitation or discrimination based on source of income.
5. For purposes of this subsection, "source of income" means all lawful sources of income or rental assistance program, homeless assistance program, security deposit assistance program, or housing subsidy program.  Source of income includes any requirement of any such program or source of income or rental assistance.


It is unlawful for any person to use a financial or income standard for the rental of housing that does either of the following:
1. Fails to account for any rental payments or portions of rental payments that will be made by other individuals or organizations (E.g. Section 8 Vouchers) on the same basis as rental payments to be made directly by the tenant or prospective tenant;
2. Fails to account in addition for the aggregate income of persons residing together or proposing to reside together or an aggregate income of tenants or prospective tenants and their cosigners or proposed cosignerson the same basis as the aggregate income of married persons residing together or proposing to reside together."

For more information, please read the below Staff Report
Here's a link to the report:

March 7, 2017
Board of Supervisors
County of Marin
3501 Civic Center Drive
San Rafael, CA 94903

SUBJECT: Proposed Ordinance to amend Chapter 5.53 of the Marin Count Code - Income-based Rental Housing Discrimination to eliminate an exception for owner-occupied structures.

Dear Board Members,

RECOMMENDATION: Consistent with the Board's prior direction.  Staff recommends that your Board conduct a first reading and consider an amendment to remove an owner-occupancy exception from Marin County Code Chapter 5.53 - The County's Fair Housing Ordinance providing source of income protections for recipients of third-party rental assistance (Attachment 1).

SUMMARY:  On November 8, 2016, your Board held a merit hearing and adopted a Fair Housing Ordinance to remove limitations in the provision of rental housing for families and veterans to remove limitations in the provision of rental housing for families and veterans who receive third-party rental assistance (Attachment 2).  At that time, your Board directed staff to return at a future date to consider the herein contained amendments to remove an exception for owner-occupied structures with less than three dwelling units and for housing accommodations wherein an owner and tenant keep in common either a bathroom or kitchen facility (5.53.010.C.1)

The elimination of this exception would simplify the process of understanding and determining Ordinance applicability. Furthermore, it would support an original intent of the Ordinance to inhibit a discriminatory rental environment by preventing property owners from disseminating advertising materials expressing preference based on a person's source of income.

BACKGROUND: The existing Fair Housing Ordinance contains an exception for owner-occupied dwellings or owner-occupied structures containing three or fewer units.  Precedent for an owner occupancy exemption predates the 1968 federal Fair Housing Act (FHA), and was included in the FHA as a compromise between arguments for landlord's First Amendment freedom of association and their obligations as proprietors participating in the rental housing market to comply with those market regulations.  A property owner is not obliged to rent their property, but if they elect to do so, they are obligated to comply with fair housing and other market regulations.

Your board has signaled its support of the development of accessory dwelling units ("ADUs" or "second units"), junior accessory dwelling units ("JADUs" or "junior units") and room rentals as a strategy of addressing the ongoing housing affordability crisis.  These units would likely be exempt from this Fair Housing Ordinance if the exception provided in 5.53.010.C.1 is maintained.

CONCLUSION:  The proposed amendment furthers the County's Fair Housing goals.  No State or Federal law preempts the County's ability to eliminate this exemption.

Respectfully submitted,
Brian Crawford (Director) & Debbi La Rue (Plannera)

Editor's Note: The proposed ordinance is going to make it tough on the small owner.  Section 8 requires extra paperwork/ inspections that is very burdensome to landlords.  I think this will simply take rental opportunities off the market

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