State Housing Law Program

The State Housing Law (SHL) Program was established to assure the availability of affordable housing and uniform statewide code enforcement to protect the health, safety, and general welfare of the public and occupants of housing and accessory buildings. To fulfill this obligation the SHL Program may propose legislation and regulations. The program oversees the application of state laws, regulations, and code enforcement by a city, county, city and county building, housing, health, and fire department or fire district.

The SHL Program standards apply to new construction of hotels, motels, lodging houses, apartments, dwellings and accessory buildings thereto; and maintenance, use, occupancy, repair, alteration, moving, and demolition of existing hotels, motels, lodging houses, apartments, dwellings, and accessory buildings.

The building standards are published in the California Code of Regulations, Title 24, known as the California Building Standards Code.

The regulations are published in the California Code of Regulations, Title 25, Division 1, Chapter 1.

To carry out the State Housing Law by adopting building standards and administrative regulations that assure safe and durable housing while safeguarding affordability.

The Legislature enacted the State Housing Law to encourage uniformity in building standards; protect the health, safety and general welfare of the public and occupants of residential buildings statewide.

California's concern for adequate housing for its residents was first established by the State Tenement House Act in 1909. The Act regulated only tenements such as apartment houses and hotels within cities. In 1913, the Commission of Immigration and Housing became the enforcement agency for the Tenement House Act.

The first law to address dwellings was the State Dwelling House Act enacted by the Legislature in 1917. In 1923, the State Tenement House Act, the State Hotel and Lodging Act, and the State Dwelling House Act were combined into the State Housing Act with the enforcement responsibility given to the Commission of Immigration and Housing.

In 1927, the Division of Immigration and Housing within the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations was created and later named, in 1945, the Division of Housing, the forerunner of the Division of Building and Housing Standards.

In 1951, outdated, restrictive sections were repealed and substituted with more modern concepts and material ratings. In addition, this revision extended to local enforcement agencies within the State having broad discretionary powers in approving alternate materials or methods of construction not prescribed by the Act. This moved the Act from its previous position as a specification code to a performance code.

In 1961, the State Housing Act was repealed and the State Housing Law was enacted. Dwellings, wherever located in the state, were constructed subject to provisions of the State Housing Law. The new law established authority for the Commission of Immigration and Housing to adopt rules and regulations applicable to apartment houses, hotels, and dwellings to carry out the legislative intent.

In 1965, the Commission of Housing and Community Development was created. The Division of Housing within the Department of Industrial Relations, along with all its duties, powers, responsibilities and jurisdictions, was placed in a new Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD).

In 1970, the California Legislature made a finding that uniformity in building standards throughout the state is a matter of statewide interest and concern since it would reduce housing costs and increase the efficiency of the private housing construction industry. To assure uniform standards, the legislature enacted Health and Safety Code Section 17958 which required the local governing bodies to enact ordinances imposing the same building standards as those adopted by the Department. Other provisions in this same legislative bill allowed local governments to modify the state standards provided the local government made specific findings of need.

In 1982, the Commission was eliminated and its powers were vested in HCD. In August 1982, HCD adopted the first regulations requiring adaptability and accessibility provisions accommodating persons with disabilities in newly constructed apartment houses containing five or more dwelling units. However, due to technical issues requiring additional regulatory action, these regulations did not become effective at the state level until September 15, 1984 or by default on September 15, 1985.

In the 1980s, HCD worked with building officials, building industry associations, other state agencies and representatives of the disabled community, to develop building standards requiring accessibility features in specific residential buildings. The impetus for adopting such regulations for housing was the enactment of federal laws, known as the Fair Housing Act of 1968 and Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988. Designers, builders, and code enforcement agencies needed assistance meeting the requirements of the federal laws and implementing guidelines issued by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The accessibility regulations adopted by HCD are currently in place in the California Code of Regulations, Title 24, Part 2, known as California Building Code. These building standards apply to newly constructed multifamily dwelling units in buildings having three or more dwelling units and four or more condominium dwelling units.

Information Bulletins, Booklets, and Publications


State Housing Law (SHL) Current Program Activities


  • Providing public assistance with the California Building Standards Code and the accessibility requirements in Chapter 11A of the California Building Code.
  • Providing public assistance with the California Green Building Standards Code (CALGreen).
  • Participating in the California Building Standards Commission’s Coordinating Council along with other State agencies to coordinate regulatory actions.
  • Coordinating with interagency Drought Task Force and the California Building Standards Commission in response to the Governor’s Executive Order regarding Water Use Reduction and the State Drought Emergency.
  • Participating in other interagency task forces for Electric Vehicle Readiness, Solar Permitting, and Hydrogen Fuel Station Permitting.
  • Providing educational outreach and updates to the public, local jurisdictions, and various local ICC chapters.
  • Updating the State Housing Law Regulations in Title 25 of the California Code of Regulations.
  • Participating as a member of the California Historical Building Safety Board (SHBSB).

2016 Intervening Code Adoption Cycle

  • Changes to be effective July 1, 2018
  • Development of the supplement for the 2016 California Residential Code, Title 24, Part 2.5, originally based on the 2015 International Residential Code published by the International Code Council.
  • Development of the supplement for the 2016 California Plumbing Code, Title 24, Part 5, originally based on the 2015 Uniform Plumbing Code published by the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials.
  • Development of the supplement for the 2016 California Green Building Standards Code, Title 24, Part 11.
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