STATEWIDE – California Assemblymember Tina McKinnor (D-Inglewood) introduced Assembly Bill 1418, Friday, that would ban “crime-free housing” policies. If the bill passes, landlords would no longer be required to evict tenants accused of breaking the law or deny rental applications to those with prior criminal convictions.
Hesperia and the San Bernardino County Sheriff Department recently made headlines after the Department of Justice (DOJ) ordered them to pay a $1 million settlement for “crime-free housing” policies. The DOJ cited a Housing and Urban Development (HUD) report that found Black renters were almost four times more likely – and Latino renters 29% more likely, to be evicted under the program than white renters.
“Crime-free housing” across the state
A 2020 Los Angeles Times report found that at least 147 cities and counties in California have enacted a crime-free housing law or advertise crime-free housing training for landlords.
Under “crime-free housing” policies, some cities require landlords to evict tenants accused of breaking the law. Other municipalities provide police training for landlords on criminal background checks and anti crime lease provisions.
Cities have cited rising crime rates as reason to pass the policies, however in some communities with approved “crime-free housing”, crime was stable or falling. The LA Times found what was increasing – the number of Black or Latino residents.
RELATED: Hesperia and SB County Sheriff to pay $1M settlement for housing discrimination
Although crime-free housing programs do not mention race, some supporters have used racist language to justify them.
A Hesperia city council member said the purpose of his city’s ordinance was “to correct a demographical problem with people that are committing crimes in this community.”
A resident at a Hemet city council meeting cited “some new elements that have moved into our town” when advocating for “crime-free housing.”
Proposed AB 1418
AB 1418 would prohibit a local government from:
- Imposing a penalty against a resident, owner, tenant, landlord as a consequence of contact with a law enforcement agency;
- Requiring or encouraging a landlord to perform a criminal background check of a tenant or a prospective tenant;
- Evicting or penalizing a tenant because of the tenant’s association with another tenant;
- Including a provision in a lease or rental agreement that provides a ground for eviction not provided law.
- Requiring a tenant to obtain a certificate of occupancy as a condition of tenancy.
- Establishing a registry of tenants for the purposes of discouraging a landlord from renting to a tenant on the registry.
The Assembly and Senate would need to pass AB 1418 prior to Governor Gavin Newsom’s approval to become law.
Communities with “crime-free housing” policies would then be given one year to bring them into compliance.
To read the full AB 1418 visit https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=202320240AB1418