Employee Housing Program

The Employee Housing Program oversees the construction, maintenance, use, and occupancy of privately-owned and -operated employee housing facilities providing housing for five or more employees to assure their health, safety, and general welfare.  The Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) enforces state laws and regulations related to the Employee Housing Act through local enforcement agencies (PDF).  Where local enforcement agencies do not enforce the provisions of the Act, HCD acts as the enforcement agency. 

Laws and Regulations

Law

The State Law governing employee housing is entitled the "Employee Housing Act" and may be found in Division 13, Part 1 of the California Health and Safety Code, commencing with Section 17000 . This Act establishes requirements for permits, fees, and responsibilities of employee housing operators and enforcement agencies, including the Department.

Regulations

The California Code of Regulations, Title 25, Division 1, Chapter 1, Subchapter 3 includes specific requirements for the construction of housing, maintenance of grounds, buildings, minimum allowable sleeping space and facilities, sanitation, and heating. The provisions of the California Building Standards Code (Title 24) govern the construction of permanent buildings used for employee housing. (See also State Housing Law for appropriate building standards.)  The construction of mobile home and recreational vehicle lots within an employee housing facility are subject to provisions in the Mobilehome Parks Act and the Regulations adopted by the Department for such facilities.

For additional information on any changes in law or regulations, check the list of Information Bulletins.

Application and Scope

The Employee Housing Act and the adopted regulations govern the standards for the construction, maintenance, use, and occupancy of living quarters, called "employee housing," provided for five or more employees under specified circumstances. Employee housing subject to the Act is privately operated and does not include government-owned or -operated migrant worker facilities.
In general, employee housing is privately owned housing which houses five or more employees and meets the following:

  • Living quarters provided in connection with any work, whether or not rent is involved.
  • Housing in a rural area which is:
    • Provided by someone who is not an agricultural employer, and
    • Provided for agricultural workers employed by any agricultural employer.

Any city, county, or city and county may assume responsibility for enforcement of the Employee Housing Act upon written notice to, and approval by the Department. Where a local government has not assumed enforcement responsibility, or enforcement has been taken away from a local agency because of non-enforcement, the Department is the enforcement agency. 

Enforcement

State law known as the HCD 206 (PDF) in English/Spanish summarizing the Act.  The responsibilities of HCD include the following activities:

  • Inspecting employee housing:  After receipt of the Inspection Request form HCD 207 (PDF) prior to occupancy to assure compliance with the maintenance requirements and during occupancy to assure compliance with the use, maintenance, and occupancy requirements of the regulations and law as well as applicable sections of the Title 24, California Building Standards Code. 
  • Investigation of complaints of violations of the Employee Housing Act and the regulations.
  • Investigation of local enforcement agencies (PDF) that have assumed enforcement of the Employee Housing Act.  Where a local enforcement agency has not assumed enforcement responsibility, or enforcement has been taken away because of nonenforcement, the Department is the enforcement agency.
  • Annual evaluations of local agencies (PDF) to ensure their performance in enforcement of the Employee Housing Act, the regulations and the California Building Standards Code.

Forms

Permit to Operate, Alternate Approval, and Exemptions or Not Subject to the Act

Permit to Operate

Issuance of new permits HCD 204 (PDF) to operate employee housing and annual renewals include invoicing the employee housing operators, receiving and banking fees, ordering field inspections, completing and mailing permits, and maintaining all records of such permitting and renewals.  This includes submittal of the Application for State Benefits (PDF) required under federal law prior to operating a facility.

Alternate Approval

Any request for alternate approval of any material, appliance, installation, or device in an employee housing facility must be received using HCD 213 (PDF).
A Certificate of Non-Operation, HCD 214 (PDF), must be filed with the agency for two years following the discontinuation of an employee housing facility or camp.

Exempt Facilities or Facilities Not Subject to the Act

Certain types of employee housing facilities are exempt from all or part of the provisions of the Employee Housing Act while other facilities may have a partial exemption.  (See Health and Safety Code Sections 17030 - 17039 .)  Examples of these exempt facilities include:

  • Housing maintained in connection with a horse racing facility (See Sections 19455 and 19481.5 of the Business and Professions Code for additional information.).
  • "Employee Community Housing," which is a community of at least 200 single-family dwellings of four or more rooms owned and maintained by the employer, pursuant to the provisions of the State Housing Law , is not subject to the Employee Housing Act.
  • Properly maintained permanent housing, including manufactured homes and mobile homes on a dairy farm, may be exempted from the annual permitting requirements of the Act.

Government-owned or -operated migrant worker facilities are not subject to the Employee Housing Act.

Reporting

Health and Safety Code Section 17031.8 directs the Department to develop an annual statistical summary of both local and HCD enforcement activities throughout the calendar year. Development of the annual statistic summary of the program reporting enforcement activities summarizes information from the 2014 Statistic Summary of the Codes and Standards Program (PDF) for further information.

Program Publications

These booklets and publications provide a review of the employee housing requirements involved in employee housing facilities and the basic information concerning employee housing providers on the requirements of the federal and California laws and regulations, primarily for agricultural workers.  For all the requirements, please review the appropriate laws and regulations of the Employee Housing Act and Employee Housing Regulations .

Employee Housing Facility Inspection Booklet (PDF)

This booklet contains important information about violations and related issues found during the inspection process.  The information assists owners, operators, and residents prepare for inspections of the facility's and or camp's open areas; buildings; and equipment related to the electrical, gas, and sewer/septic systems for proper maintenance.  The Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) encourages owners and operators of employee housing facilities and camps to review this publication.

Guide to Federal and State Requirement for Employee/Migrant Housing (PDF)

This guide was prepared jointly by HCD, Division of Codes and Standards, and the United States Department of Labor Wages and Hour Division. The guide provides basic information for employee housing providers on the requirements of the federal and California laws and regulations that govern maintenance, use, and occupancy standards of living quarters for employees, primarily agricultural workers.

2015 Employee Housing Statistical Summary (PDF)

This report is prepared by the Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) under the statewide Employee Housing Act and summarizes both local and HCD enforcement activities during the 2015 calendar year.  This report contains enforcement statistics and statistical information from HCD and information required to be submitted by the nine local enforcement agencies that enforce the Act.

Filing a Complaint

The Department conducts complaint investigations under its Employee Housing Act enforcement activities for alleged violation of the Act.  Anyone wishing to file a complaint may print out the Department's Complaint Form.

Information Bulletins

Check Information Bulletins frequently for additional information pertaining to employee housing..