What We Do
There is nothing more important than having a place to call ‘home’. Housing Rights, Inc. helps people get and keep their home by exercising their housing rights. Click below for details about:
And what we do for:
After 25 years, we remain committed to providing low and lower income households access to resources especially housing by exercising their housing rights. We find that the most significant barriers to equal access in housing are ignorance, apathy and malice.
Some people just don’t know what their rights and responsibilities are. We conduct extensive outreach into the community to inform the public about our services and about their rights and responsibilities (for both housing consumers and housing providers).
Some people don’t care. They haven’t bothered to find out what their responsibilities are. They are not concerned about the condition of their property; they don’t want to put out the energy to do the right thing. It is our job to get them to see the importance of fairness and to understand the possible consequences of not meeting their responsibilities.
And finally, as hard as it is to believe today, there are people who believe that others should be excluded from housing because of the color of their skin or the fact that they have children or have a disability. In these instances we work with an impressive group of private attorneys and with the state and federal government to enforce fair housing and tenant/landlord laws. Sometimes good information is not enough.
Click on the links above to find out more about what we do.
We provide two types of services to tenants. Assistance when a tenant has a conflict with a landlord (or landlord's representative) and Fair Housing Investigation.
Tenant/Landlord Conflict Resolution
Since 1997 we have formally provided tenant/landlord services. We provide this service in six cities: Albany, Berkeley, Concord, Emeryville, Piedmont, Richmond and Walnut Creek. While cities and counties do not have a legal obligation to provide this service, many cities, in the San Francisco Bay Area chose to provide this service to their residents. We are primarily funded with CDBG (Community Development Block Grant) funds, which require us to target our services to lower income tenants. However, people with lower income individuals are more likely to call us because they are less likely to have other resources, including legal resources to use when they have conflicts.
The services we provide for tenants who are experiencing a conflict with their landlord are:
- Housing Rights Counseling (explaining to our clients the applicable laws or regulations and their options for action)
- Mediation (mutually agreeable resolution)
- Advocacy (referrals to private attorneys when applicable
- Information regarding small claims court and other self-advocacy options)
The following written material, available through our website, may assist you in resolving conflicts with your landlords. Click on the title of the document you want below:
- California Tenants: A guide to residential tenants' and landlords' rights and responsibilities (PDF: 0.6MB)
- Inquilinos de California (PDF: 0.6MB)
- Repair and Deduct Packet (PDF: 0.3MB): Self-advocacy packet designed to aid renters to get needed repairs. There is more self-help information available on our campanion website: rentersrights.info
- Repair and Deduct in Spanish (PDF: 0.3MB)
- Repair and Deduct in Chinese (PDF: 0.3MB)
- When Your Home Makes You Sick (PDF: 0.6MB): Self-Advocacy packet designed to aid a renter in determining if and how their home may be making members of their household ill and how to determine who may be responsible for removing the source of the problem.
- When Your Home Makes You Sick in Spanish (PDF: 0.6MB)
- Tenant's Logbook (PDF:
0.7MB): A publication
that included useful suggestions and encourages renters to "document, document,
- Tenant's Logbook in Spanish (PDF: 0.6MB)
- Tenant's Logbook in Chinese (PDF: 0.7MB)
If you would like more information about how you might be able to resolve tenant/landlord conflicts check out rentersrights.info, a self-help website.
Fair Housing Investigation
If you think you may have been discriminated against or if you are a housing provider and are concerned about your current policies please give us a call. Illegal housing discrimination is when one person is treated differently than another person because of such personal characteristics as race, religion, sexual orientation, presence of children in the family or because a member of the household has a disability.
Sometimes illegal discrimination is blatant and intentional, other times it is not obvious but is just as harmful when a seemingly neutral rule keeps people out because of their race, religion, etc. Another form of discrimination is when a housing provider refuses to change their policies, practices or procedures for people with disabilities. The services that we provide individuals who believe that they have experience housing discrimination are:
- Investigation of Housing Discrimination complaints
- Housing Counseling: rights, responsibilities, opportunities
- Referral to HUD/DFEH or a private attorney
Housing Rights, Inc. works to eliminate discrimination and prevent evictions. While we will not assist a landlord or residential property owner evict a tenant, we are work with landlords and residential property owners to prevent evictions and solve problems with tenants in properties in the jurisdictions that we serve. We encourage you to call us at (510) 548-8776. In addition to the free services we provide for our clients, we are available, for a fee, to conduct Fair Housing Training for Residential Property Owners and Property Management staff. Call us at the above number if you are interested in discussing training for you and/or your staff.
There are a number of resources available to Residential Property Owners:
- Continuing Education (DRE)
- Housing Rights, Inc. is proud to have been certified by the State Department of Real Estate at a Continuing Education Training in Fair Housing. More information about this new course.
- Self Help
- Every Landlord's Legal Guide
- The Landlord's Law Book: Rights and Responsibilities
- The Landlord's Law Book Volume 2: Evictions
- All available from Nolo Press (950 Parker St. Berkeley. 800-955-4775 www.nolo.com) Also Available in many bookstores.
- Tenant's Rights
- California Tenants: A Guide to Residential Tenant's and Landlord's Rights and Responsibilities.
- Available from the Department of Consumer Affairs. They also have other information that may be of interest: www.dca.gov
- California Tenants: A Guide to Residential Tenant's and Landlord's Rights and Responsibilities.
- Berkeley Association of Realtors, 510-848-4288
- Contra Costa Association of Realtors, 925-938-1144
- Oakland Association of Realtors, 510-836-3000
- West Contra Costa Association of Realtors, 510-233-1152
- Property Owners
- Berkeley Property Owners Association, 510-525-3666
- Rental Housing Association of Northern Alameda County, 510-893-9873
- Rental Housing Association, 925-798-6132
- Berkeley Dispute Resolution Services, 510-428-9873
- Conciliation Forums of Oakland, 510-763-2117
- Conflict Resolution Panels, 925, 798-6132
This information was compiled by staff of Housing Rights, Inc. Please call us if this information is incorrect or if new resources become available. In addition to providing training for housing providers (landlords, property managers, real estate professionals, etc.) we also encourage housing providers in northern Alameda and Contra Costa Counties to call us with their questions. We can provide information which might be useful in preventing or heading off a conflict between the housing provider and a renter.
HRI has two programs designed to assist homeowners/buyers with housing rights questions. www.HIC-at-HRI.org is a website which provides important information about the homeownership process and HRI's services. We are also part of the West Contra Costa Don't Borrow Trouble Campaign. This new campaign is a partnership between the City of Richmond, HRI, Community Development Corporation of North Richmond, Lao Family Community Development Corporation, West Contra Costa County Board of Realtors, Bay Area Legal Aid, Senior Legal Services and others. For more information call 1-800-773-2110.
HRI is funded by several local jurisdiction in Alameda and Contra Costa County. Our primary function has been as part of those jurisdiction's commitment to 'affirmatively further fair housing' Affirmatively furthering fair housing is a requirement made of local jurisdictions that receive Community Development Block Grant monies from HUD (federal government). So members of the public are directed to call us to investigate their complaints of housing discrimination.
We also accept, as described above, calls from renters and landlords, and attempt to resolve conflicts between the two. The last couple of years, most of our callers have been referred to us by local government agencies. We serve several very important functions: handle calls that go to elected and other public officials from constituents needed help with housing problems, identify housing related problems in communities and work, with renters and landlords to improve the quality of housing. And we work with low and lower income households on the "American Dream" of homeownership, providing them with information and support. Homeownership is an important asset building activity, not only for the homeowner but for the larger community as well.
Much of our outreach is targeted to the communities that we service. We make ourselves available to the public at festivals and other public events. We also visit childcare centers, schools, other community -based organizations and faith organizations. One of our past projects was the Zoning and Land-Use Project through which we, with partners studied the zoning and land-use practices of local jurisdictions. A description of this project and findings are included on this site: Zoning and Land-Use Project.