Ronald V. Dellums Fair Chance Access to Housing Ordinance
The Fair Chance Access to Housing Ordinance prohibits rental housing providers in Berkeley from asking about and using criminal history and/or criminal background checks in their rental housing advertising, applications, tenant selection process, or decision-making.
On April 14, 2020, Berkeley City Council passed the Fair Chance Access to Housing Ordinance (BMC 13.106). An overview of the ordinance is available below. Please review the Ordinance for more specific details related to your property or tenancy.
It is unlawful to do any of the following with regard to current or prospective tenants
- Inquire about criminal history
- Indicate that persons with criminal backgrounds will not be considered for housing, including in rental advertisements, application materials, or verbally
- Refuse to rent or terminate a tenancy based on criminal history
- Require disclosure or authorization for release of criminal history
- Demand a higher security deposit or rental amount based on criminal history
- Refuse to allow the addition of an immediate family member based on the family member’s criminal history
- Disqualify tenants from rental assistance programs such as Section 8 based on criminal history (subject to certain exceptions below)
- Treating rental applicants or tenants differently based on their criminal history
Please view the Ordinance on specific requirements for each exemption.
- Lifetime sex offenders
- Public housing/Section 8 properties limited exemptions
- Owner-occupied properties (between 1-3 units) in which an owner of record resides in one of the units as their primary residence
- Units under a rental agreement allowing owners to move back to their home in accordance with BMC 13.76.130 A.10
- Units occupied by existing tenant(s) seeking to sublet or add/replace roommates
Written Notice and Opportunity to Respond Required
If a landlord takes any action against an applicant or tenant based on criminal history (such as refusing to offer a lease, refusing to add a family member, etc.), the landlord is required to provide the applicant/tenant with written notice and an opportunity to respond. This is due to the fact that criminal background checks and reporting services frequently provide inaccurate or incomplete information.
Any landlord found to be in violation of the Ordinance shall be subject to administrative fines of at least $1,000 and up to $10,000 per violation, civil damages including actual damages or three times the amount of one month's rent, punitive damages, attorneys' fees and costs, and injunctive relief.
Filing a Complaint with the City
The City of Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board will be administering complaints regarding the Ordinance. You may use this complaint form, which includes instructions and information about the hearing process:
Applicants or tenants with criminal records who believe their rights have been violated by a housing provider under the terms of the Fair Chance Access to Housing Ordinance during the application, leasing, or tenancy process can file a complaint. Filing a complaint is also an option if you are a close family member of someone with a criminal record and you believe they were prevented by a housing provider from being added to your household on the basis of their criminal record, or from obtaining their own housing, or facing other adverse action from a housing provider.
Responding to a Complaint
Housing providers may respond to a complaint and participate in the hearing process by completing and submitting this answer form, which also includes instructions and information regarding the hearing process:
Formal Notice Distribution
Housing providers must include the following Notice to Rental Applicants and Tenants prominently on their application materials, websites, and at any locations under their control that are frequently visited by Applicants:
- Notice to Rental Applicants and Tenants (includes Spanish and Chinese)
- Spanish - Aviso a Los Solicitantes de Propiedades en Alquiler y a Inquilinos
- Chinese - 致申請人和租戶的通知
- Fair Chance Notice to Rental Property Owners (includes Spanish and Chinese)
- Fair Chance Notice to Rental Property Owners (Spanish) Aviso a Los Propietarios de Inmuebles en Alquiler
- Fair Chance Notice to Rental Property Owners (Chinese) 致出租物業業主的通知
- FAQs for Formerly Incarcerated Persons and their Families
- FAQs for Formerly Incarcerated Persons and their Families (Spanish) Preguntas frecuentes de acceso justo a la vivienda Berkeley para personas que estuvieron encarceladas y sus familias
- FAQs for Formerly Incarcerated Persons and their Families (Chinese) Berkeley 前受監禁者及其家人的公平機會住房常見問答集
- FAQs for Rental Property Owners and Managers
- FAQs for Rental Property Owners and Managers (Spanish) Preguntas frecuentes de acceso justo a la vivienda de Berkeley para propietarios y gerentes de propiedades en alquiler
- FAQs for Rental Property Owners and Managers (Chinese) Berkeley 租賃物業業主和管理員的公平機會住房常見問答集
- Administrative Regulation 1.18 - Fair Chance Complaints
- Rent Board Housing Counseling
- East Bay Community Law Center - Clean Slate Services (free legal advice)
- Just Cities (community education and outreach)