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.  Annual inspections are conducted on all permitted Employee Housing facilities to ensure all health, safety, and general welfare requirements are met.

Employee Housing in California is regulated by The State Law 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.

How to Apply:

An application can be obtained and submitted from our Permit Center for sites in Agricultural and Residential Zones housing 12 or fewer employees.  The application will be reviewed by RMA staff for approval or denial of the proposed Employee Housing Facility.

For sites housing 12 or more employees, a Special Use Permit application must be submitted and reviewed by the Tulare County Planning Commission or Zoning Administrator at a public hearing before a permit to operate application can be considered. Notice of the hearing must be published in a local newspaper. Surrounding property owners will be notified of the public hearing.

Permit to Operate

All operators of Employee Housing are required to obtain an annual ‘’Permit to Operate” from the Tulare County RMA. Permits must be renewed every year, as long as employee housing continues, unless an exemption has been granted, or a permit has been issued. Operators must apply for a Permit to Operate at least 45 days before the site is to be occupied.


 The following general standards apply to Employee Housing sites:

  1. Caretaker
    There must be a caretaker to see that the site is maintained properly.
  2. Light, Heat, Ventilation
    Rooms used for living, dining, cooking or sleeping and toilet and bath buildings must have proper light and ventilation with insect screening on windows and outside doors. Heating must be provided  and be maintained at a minimum 60 degree temperature in sleeping quarters, and 70 degree temperature in bath buildings when occupied.
  3. Beds and Sleeping Areas
    Suitable and separate beds must be provided for all workers. The rooms or areas used for sleeping purposes for more than one person shall be maintained with a floor area of not less than 50 square feet for each occupant and a minimum average ceiling height of not less than 7 feet.
  4. Drinking Water
    Fresh and pure drinking water must be supplied at convenient locations. An annual water test may be required.
  5. Kitchen Facilities
    Kitchen sinks must be supplied with hot and cold running water. Shelves are required for food storage above the floor.
  6. Toilets, Lavatories and Showers
    At least one shower and one lavatory with hot and cold running water and one toilet must be provided for both males and females for every 10 workers. Lavatories shall be located adjacent to the toilet facilities.
  7. Sanitation
    All toilet and bathrooms, kitchen and mess halls, sleeping and living rooms, and beds and bedding must be kept clean and sanitary. Closed garbage and waste containers must be provided and must be emptied as often as necessary. The entire camp area must be kept clean, be well drained, and free from trash and garbage.
  8. Location with Respect to Livestock
    Employee housing shall be maintained not less than 100 feet from barns, pens, or similar quarters of livestock or poultry
  9. Drainage
    The premises shall be free from depressions in which water can stand. Natural sinkholes, pools, swamps or other surface collectors of water within 200 feet of the periphery of employee housing shall be either drained or filled to remove the surface water.
  10. Liquefied Petroleum Gas Restriction
    No liquefied petroleum (LP) gas tanks or cylinders shall be maintained within an enclosed housing accommodation, nor be within 5 feet of a source of ignition, nor be less than 5 feet from any building opening or property line.
  11. Exits
    All exits for all buildings or portions thereof in employee housing shall be maintained clear and unobstructed at all times and meet Building Code requirements.
  12. Employee Responsibility
    Each employee and occupant of a labor camp shall help take care of the camp and keep it clean.

Operating without a Permit

  • Operators of unlicensed Employee Housing who are found operating without a Permit to Operate, are required to pay double the fees normally required for the Permit to Operate.
  • Operators of unlicensed Employee Housing accommodations, who are found in violation for a second time within five years, are subject to fees ten times the amount for a first time offense.
  • Operators of unlicensed Employee Housing may also be required to secure a building permit(s) for improvements. This permit must be obtained and work must be completed within 30 days of receiving notice.
  • Operators who fail to comply with the requirements of the notice and obtain required permits are guilty of a misdemeanor and are liable for a civil penalty of not less than $300 per day.

Certificate of Non-Op

When an Employee Housing operator ceases to operate employee housing subject to the permit requirements, a "Certificate of Non-Operation" shall be submitted with fees to Tulare County RMA for two years following the discontinuation of Employee Housing.

For additional information on Employee Housing, please contact the staff of the Tulare County Resource Management Agency (559) 624-7000. Copies of the California Employee Housing Act can be purchased, and can provide information on other regulations that may affect you.