2021’s flurry of new anti-discrimination laws has left the California Department of Real Estate (DRE) scrambling to catch up.

In an effort to conform outdated language and rules found in the Regulations of the Real Estate Commissioner, the DRE is proposing several changes.

The DRE proposes to:

  • update the list of groups labeled as protected classes to align with state law;
  • remove an old allowance for real estate licensees to decide which properties to give a client with physical disabilities the opportunity to view, rent, sell or finance; instead requiring licensees to give their clients the choice to decide which properties may or may not fit their physical needs;
  • add caregivers and sublessees to the list of individuals covered by the term “owners or occupants, including their guests, visitors or invitees” which licensees are prohibited from discriminating against on the basis of their protected class;
  • eliminate gendered language; and
  • update language throughout the anti-discrimination section to clarify prohibited acts against members of protected classes.

The updated list of protected classes will prohibit discrimination by a real estate licensee based on a person’s:

  • race;
  • color;
  • religion;
  • sex;
  • gender;
  • gender identity;
  • gender expression;
  • sexual orientation;
  • familial status;
  • marital status;
  • disability;
  • genetic information;
  • national origin;
  • source of income;
  • veteran or military status;
  • ancestry;
  • citizenship;
  • primary language; or
  • immigration status. [Calif. Civil Code §51]

The DRE iterates that these updates are not new pieces of law. Rather, these changes will allow the DRE to conform its outdated discrimination sections to legislation which has already been passed.

To comment or inquire about the DRE’s updates, the DRE invites individuals to contact Daniel Kehew at 916-576-7842, or via email at DRE.RegComments@dre.ca.gov. To be considered, any public comment needs to be received by March 2, 2022.

Related article:

They: Evolving language in the world of real estate

Implicit bias training gives DRE the extra push

These updates come on the heels of 2021’s legislation requiring implicit bias training for real estate renewal and pre-licensing courses. Appraisers are also seeing changes with 2021’s passage of AB 948, which aims to tackle discrimination in the appraisal process.

As licensees prepare to take a magnifying glass to the DRE’s anti-discrimination rules, it’s no wonder the DRE decided an update was in order.

The new law takes effect on January 1, 2023, and requires training to cover:

  • the impact of implicit, explicit and systemic biases on consumers;
  • the historical and social impacts of those biases; and
  • actionable steps licensees can take to recognize and address their own biases.

For reference, the DRE states the reason why it’s taken so long to update their language comes down to the fact that the DRE refers any discrimination complaints to the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). Then, only when the DFEH decides prosecution is warranted will the DRE take disciplinary action, relying on more active government agencies to do the investigative legwork. Thus, in cases of discrimination, the Regulations of the Real Estate Commissioner are not exactly relevant to disciplinary proceedings.

Editor’s note — firsttuesday’s editorial staff is hard at work preparing content for California’s new implicit bias course requirements. Want to get a head start on fair housing and implicit bias topics? Download firsttuesday’s Fair Housing continuing education e-book.