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
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.
Title 25, California Code of Regulations, Division 1, Chapter 1, Subchapter 3 includes specific requirements for the construction of housing, maintenance of grounds and 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 mobilehome and recreational vehicle lots within an employee housing facility is subject to provisions in the Mobilehome Parks Act and 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 that 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 that 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.
The enforcement responsibilities of HCD include the following activities:
- Inspecting employee housing: Inspections are completed prior to and during occupancy to assure compliance with the use, maintenance, and occupancy requirements established by the laws and regulations, as well as applicable sections of Title 24, California Building Standards Code.
- Investigation of complaints of violations of the Employee Housing Act and the regulations.
- Annual monitoring evaluations of local enforcement agencies (PDF) to ensure their performance and ability to enforce the Employee Housing Act and all rules and regulations promulgated pursuant to the Act.
Facility Operators / Owners:
- HCD 204 - Application for Permit to Operate Employee Housing Facility (PDF)
- HCD 207 - Employee Housing Requested Inspection Date (PDF)
- HCD 213 - Application for Alternate Approval (Employee Housing) (PDF)
- HCD 214 - Certificate of Non-Operation (PDF)
- HCD Benefits Form 1 - Statement of Citizenship, Alienage, and Immigration Status for State Public Benefits (PDF)
- Employee Housing Request for Assistance (Complaint Forms)
Local Enforcement Agencies:
- HCD 210 Employee Housing Statistical Report (PDF)
- HCD 211 Local Enforcement Agency Contact Information (PDF)
Permit to Operate, Alternate Approval, and Exemptions or Not Subject to the Act
Permit to Operate
Issuance of new permits 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.
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 mobilehomes 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.
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.
These publications provide an overview of the requirements for operating employee housing facilities, including basic information for providers on the most restrictive housing requirements of the federal and California laws and regulations that govern maintenance, use, and occupancy standards of living quarters for employees, primarily for agricultural workers. For all the requirements, please review the appropriate laws and regulations of the Employee Housing Act and Employee Housing Regulations .
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. HCD encourages owners and operators of employee housing facilities to review this publication in order to prepare for the inspection of their facility.
This guide was prepared jointly by HCD's Division of Codes and Standards, and the United States Department of Labor, Wage 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.
Facility Notices (to be posted in a facility):
The following notices are required to be posted in all occupied employee housing facilities in a conspicuous central location:
- HCD 206 — Employee Housing Act (PDF)
- HCD EH 200 — Employee Housing and Sanitary (PDF)
- HCD EH 200 SP — Viviendas de Empleados Seguras y Sanitarias (PDF)
Filing a Complaint
HCD conducts complaint investigations for alleged violations of the Employee Housing Act. If you would like to file an employee housing facility complaint, visit HCD's Submit a Complaint page.
Locate an Employee Housing facility through our online portal.
Check Information Bulletins frequently for additional information pertaining to employee housing.