California legislature passes bill to protect renters who call 9-1-1

SACRAMENTO — California lawmakers on Thursday unanimously passed a bill to protect tenants from being thrown out of their homes for calling 9-1-1 in an emergency.

The proposal, which now moves to Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk, takes aim at local ordinances that can result in a tenant being labeled a “nuisance” — a cause for eviction — because they called for help.

“People should be able to call for help without fear of losing their home,” said Assemblyman David Chiu, D-San Francisco, in an interview Thursday.

California law currently provides some measure of protection for victims of certain crimes, including domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking and elder abuse. But to benefit from those legal protections, the victims must provide a police report or restraining order. Under Assembly Bill 2413, they would no longer be required to provide such documentation, or they could use signed statements from a physician, psychologist or domestic violence case worker.

The bill would also void provisions in rental agreements discouraging tenants from calling for help during a crime or other emergency — and would prohibit landlords from penalizing a tenant for doing so. It would also block local ordinances that penalize landlords or tenants when emergency personnel are called to the scene of a crime or emergency.

AB 2413 had no formal opposition and was supported by the California Apartment Association, which represents landlords. Brown has until Sept. 30 to sign or veto bills.

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Proponents of the proposal, including the National Housing Law Project and the Women’s Policy Institute, argue that nuisance ordinances — also called “disorderly house ordinances” — disproportionately affect women and poor families and worsen the state’s homelessness crisis.

“No one should have to choose between their safety and keeping their home,” said Shamus Roller, executive director of the National Housing Law Project, in a statement. “It is time that California joins the growing number of states that prohibit these discriminatory laws that harm people like domestic violence survivors and individuals with disabilities.”

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Source:: The Mercury News – Business


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