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Residents Flock to Learn about Fair Housing

The Santa Monica City Attorney's Consumer Protection Unit holds sold out Fair Housing workshop.

About 70 people showed up at the Santa Monica Public Library to learn about the rules and regulations regarding fair housing.

The free event held today was sponsored by the City of Santa Monica and was held in honor of April's designation as Fair Housing Month. The goal of the workshop was to educate renters, landlords and property owners about fair housing laws.

Tasha Dellagatta said she wanted to attend because she owns “a few” apartments in Santa Monica although she declined to specify which ones.

“I’m an owner, and I want to know more about what I can and cannot do,” she said.

While discrimination based on race and color were addressed, Attorney Kathy Belville said many lawsuits are most often based on cases of people with disabilities.

“That’s the number one basis for discrimination and growing,” Belville said. “A landlord shouldn’t make a distinction about disability.”

She said it is the landlord's responsibility to accommodate requests from tenants with disabilities.

“The landlord needs to grant accommodations unless there is an undue financial burden,” she said.

Such accommodations may include the use of “assistive animals,” parking issues and cases where doorways may need to be widened to accommodate a wheelchair, she said.

Landlords also cannot discriminate against applicants or existing tenants due to gender or income since “source of income is a protected class,” said Deputy City Attorney Adam Radinsky.

“The best practice is for owners to have a very clear formula and stick to it,” Radinsky said.

The differences between federal laws and state laws were also highlighted.

"There are a lot more categories of protection under state law," said Denise McGranahan, senior attorney at the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles.

Holding such workshops every year is of vital importance to all property owners and landlords, according to Deputy City Attorney Gary Rhoades.

"We do think it's an important service to the community and a needed one to do these types of workshops," Rhoades said. "There are changes almost every year in state and federal housing laws."

To find out more information about fair housing laws, visit the Santa Monica Consumer Protection Unit online, or visit Fairhousing.com.

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