California is home to nearly 40 million people. That means there are a lot of rental units, and many opportunities for landlords to take advantage of tenants. Fortunately, renters have a number of options when it comes to reporting a slumlord, including the following.
Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity-HUD
The Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO) office is a division of the department of Housing and Urban Development. The FHEO handles complaints of discrimination and bad landlords in federal housing.
There are several ways to file an FHEO complaint. First, you can download an online complaint form and then mail or email it to the San Francisco field office located at:
One Samsome Street
San Francisco, California 94104
You may also visit the office in person or call them at:
Toll Free: 800-347-3739
Through the Fair Housing Initiatives Program (FHIP), HUD provides grants to organizations that deal with fair housing issues on a local level. These organizations can also assist renters with filing complaints against bad landlords. In California, there are several FHIP-approved organizations, and you can find a complete list of them here.
California Department of Fair Employment and Housing
In addition to HUD, California also has its own Department of Fair Employment and Housing(DFEH). They assist people with filing complaints related to discrimination in housing, and encourage mediation whenever possible. You may visit the office in person or mail a complaint form to the DFEH at:
2218 Kausen Drive
Elk Grove, California 95758
Other ways to reach them include:
firstname.lastname@example.org (for disability accommodations)
The DFEH has a number of statewide offices as well.
Local Fair Housing Offices
Some local governments in California have also established their own Fair Housing Councils. They include:
Los Angeles Housing & Community Investment Department (HCIDLA)
HCIDLA is responsible for investigating fair housing complaints within the city of Los Angeles, and sometimes makes referrals for action to other state and federal fair housing organizations. They also provide advice through one-on-one counseling and workshops that are free to the public. You may reach HCIDLA at:
Southern California Housing Rights Center
3255 Wilshire Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90012
The Westside Area Office also offers walk-in services during the second Tuesday of every month between the hours of 10 am and noon. This office is located at:
1645 Corinth Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90025
Fair Housing Council of Orange County
Many times, those looking for a home encounter what they feel is discrimination. At the same time, they may not be quite sure whether or not certain actions qualify. The Fair Housing Council of Orange County provides free consultations as well as an online survey to help you determine if you are a victim. They also offer a host of other services, including housing counseling and mediation, and can be reached at:
1516 Brookhollow Drive
Santa Ana, California 92705
Toll Free: 800-698-FAIR
Fair Housing Council of Riverside County
The Fair Housing Council of Riverside County deals with landlord/tenant disputes, and aims to mediate them before they become court cases. As such, they perform some investigations as well. Both landlords and tenants can attend their informational workshops, which are designed to let people know what their rights and responsibilities are under federal, state, and local fair housing laws. They may be reached at:
4164 Brockton Ave.
Riverside, California 92501
You can find other satellite office locations here.
Fair Housing Advocates of Northern California
Filing a complaint with HUD or DFEH is often overwhelming, which is why the Fair Housing Advocates of Northern California provides assistance in this area. Visit them if you are considering a fair housing complaint with any other agency. You may also attend one of their workshops to learn more about what discrimination is and how to spot it.
To reach someone, use their online contact form or any of the following methods:
1314 Lincoln Avenue
San Rafael, California 94901
Housing Rights Center (HRC) of Los Angeles
Located in Los Angeles, the Housing Rights Center maintains a hotline where tenants can ask questions about issues such as evictions, rent increases, housing repairs, and more. They offer walk-in clinics at a number of locations in Los Angeles County, and you can find a list of available locations, dates, and times for these clinics here.
For counseling and advocacy services, you may also call or visit one of the following locations:
Los Angeles Office
3255 Wilshire Boulevard
Los Angeles, California 90010
Fax: (213) 381-8555
Jackie Robinson Center
1020 N. Fair Oaks Avenue
Pasadena, California 91103
Phone: (626) 791-0211
Van Nuys Office
6320 Van Nuys Boulevard
Van Nuys, CA 91401
Reporting Landlords for Health and Safety Violations
The California Health and Safety Code sets out certain requirements for rental housing throughout the state of California. In particular, California has very strict laws concerning mold in rental units. Through the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), you can file a complaint regarding mold, sanitation, or pest infestations. Check with this website for the local office nearest you.
California Tenant Advocacy Groups
According to their website, the mission of Tenants Together is to defend Californians' right to, "safe, decent, and affordable housing." They are the only statewide organization of their type, and partner with several others to increase their impact. You can reach them directly at email@example.com or 415-495-8100. Alternately, you may also visit one of their partners, a full list of which is available here.
Coalition for Economic Survival (CES)
The Coalition for Economic Survival fights for tenants' rights, and is an advocate for those with low or middle incomes who live in private or HUD housing. They focus on preventing slum conditions, eliminating housing dangers, and preventing unjust evictions. CES offers a great deal of information on their website, or you may also visit them in person at:
514 Shatto Place
Los Angeles, California 90020
San Francisco Tenant's Union (SFTU)
Since 1970, the San Francisco Tenant's Union has helped people learn what their rights are as a renter. They provide services such as the Tenant's Rights Handbook and drop-in counseling. In some cases, they also work to stop evictions. They may be reached at:
558 Capp Street
San Francisco, California
Housing Rights Committee of San Francisco (HRCSF)
The HRCSF provides information and counseling on tenant's rights to those living in public housing, Section 8 housing, and rent-controlled units. They also sponsor workshops and other events where people can learn more about what their rights are. In particular, they are concerned with the impact created when renters are displaced due to the sale of a building, fire, or unfair eviction.
For your convenience, there are two HRCSF locations in San Francisco:
1663 Mission Street
San Francisco, California 94103
Richmond District Office
4301 Geary Boulevard at 7th Avenue
San Francisco, California 94103
The Housing Rights Committee of San Francisco offers counseling on a walk-in basis, but prefer you make an appointment. Counseling hours at the Mission Street office are from 1 pm to 5 pm Monday through Friday. At the Richmond District Office, counselors are on hand between the hours of 9 am and 12 pm on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.
Tenants' Legal Center of San Diego
The Tenants' Legal Center of San Diego offers assistance with issues related to security deposits, leases, mold, discrimination, evictions, and more. While their services are primarily for those in San Diego County, they will consider ones from other areas of Southern California on a case-by-case basis.
They offer a toll-free hotline where you can ask questions on any matter related to landlord/tenant law. This number is 858-571-1166, and is available 24 hours per day. However, if you call after hours, leave a message and someone will return your call the next day. You may also call or visit them in person at:
5252 Balboa Ave
San Diego, CA 92117
Office Phone: 858-571-7100
Finally, for complaints related to rent control or any similar issue, help could be available from the California Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA). You can reach this agency by phone at 800-952-5210, or through email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The consumer information hotline is available during normal business hours, but there is some automated information that you can access 24/7.
You may also visit the DCA in person or by mail at:
Department of Consumer Affairs
Consumer Information Division
1625 North Market Boulevard
Sacramento, California 95834
Many Resources Available
California offers many avenues for reporting slumlords and learning what your rights are as a tenant. If you have suffered because of a bad landlord, use one of the resources above to file a complaint or learn more about your other legal options. To find out more, please contact us.
About the author
Matt Angerer is the Founder and President of VerticalRent. He enjoys writing on a variety of topics that help Landlords, Property Managers, and Renters across America. He is particularly interested in helping renters understand their local marketplace, pick the best places to live, and find an awesome roommate. Since 2011, VerticalRent has grown to service over 100,000 landlords and renters across America.