Employee Housing

The Employee Housing Program oversees the construction, maintenance, use, and occupancy of privately-owned or -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.

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 and -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.

Enforcement

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.

Laws

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

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.

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.

Permit to Operate related fees (PTO fees, reinspection fees, change of operator, etc.) can be paid online using HCD’s C&S Online Services. Before making an online payment, you must contact the Employee Housing program so a representative can set up your fees due. Please have your HCD-assigned facility ID number or facility address and total number of employees and/or lots available at the time of contact. Also, you will need a DTN and a facility or operator zip code to make a payment online. This information can be found on your pre-printed renewal invoice or by contacting a program representative. Please contact the Employee Housing program at (800) 952-8356 or EH@hcd.ca.gov for more details.

If you are no longer operating or maintaining your facility, or have reduced the number of employees you are providing housing to 4 or less employees, a Certificate of Non-Operation is required to be filed with the enforcement agency. A Certificate of Non-Operation form, HCD EH 214 (PDF), must be filed with the agency for two years following the discontinuation of an employee housing facility or camp.

Alternate Approval

Any request for alternate approval of any material, appliance, installation, or device in an employee housing facility must be received using HCD EH 213 (PDF).

Exemptions

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.

The following types of facilities are not subject to the Employee Housing Act and, therefore, are not required to obtain a Permit to Operate:

  • Facilities owned, operated, and maintained by a government agency
  • Facilities that house 4 or less employees

Please include your Facility ID number on all payments, documents, and correspondence submitted to the Department. Your Facility ID number can be found on your permit to operate, annual renewal invoice, and other PTO related documents. You may also look up your Facility ID number using HCD’s C&S Online Services facility search.

HCD’s C&S Online Services facility search provides the following information for employee housing facilities throughout California:

  • Facility name
  • Facility address
  • Facility operator name
  • Facility operator address
  • Permit to operate status
  • Permit to operate expiration date
  • Enforcement agency
  • Number of permitted structures
  • Number of permitted employees

Facility Operators / Owners

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:

Publications and Reports

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 .

Employee Housing Facility Inspection Booklet (PDF)

Folleto de Inspección de las Instalaciones de Vivienda para Empleados (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.  HCD encourages owners and operators of employee housing facilities to review this publication in order to prepare for the inspection of their facility.

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

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.

Statistical Summary Report

HCD is responsible for producing an annual report on the Employee Housing Program in compliance with California Health and Safety Code section 17031.8. The report summarizes the Employee Housing Program statistics for facilities under HCD’s enforcement authority, as well as information for the nine local enforcement agencies (city or county) approved by HCD to enforce the Employee Housing Act.

The Employee Housing Statistical Summary Report is now included as part of HCD’s Annual Report.

HCD Annual Report Fiscal Year 2021-22 (PDF) — The Employee Housing Program 2021 Statistical Summary Report can be found on Page 36 of the HCD Annual Report.

Please contact the Employee Housing Program at (800) 952-8356 or EH@hcd.ca.gov to request a copy of a previous year’s report.

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.

Annual monitoring evaluations of local enforcement agencies are conducted to ensure their performance and ability to enforce the Employee Housing Act and all rules and regulations promulgated pursuant to the Act

Current list of Local Enforcement Agencies (PDF)

LEA Forms