Senator Leland Yee Acts to Prevent Evictions of Domestic Violence Victims

Senator Leland Yee has just proposed Senate Bill 782, which would prevent landlords from evicting domestic violence victims for causing a “nuisance.” Here’s what today’s press conference at City Hall looked like:

San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris, Senator Leland Yee, Emily Murase, Executive Director of the San Francisco Department on the Status of Women, San Francisco Supervisor Carmen Chu. Also on hand was Jessica Dayton of the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence:

 

Click to expand

Senator Yee’s bill is modeled after a new San Francisco ordinance promoted by Supervisor Chu and Kamala Harris last year and unanimously passed by the Board of Supervisors in February. The presence today of Kelenia Olsen from the office of Assemblymember Fiona Ma and Noriko Shinzato from the office of Assemblymember Tom Ammiano indicates this bill should get a lot of support from the bay area delegation in Sacramento.

But the question of the day is whether statewide homeowners groups will oppose this law due to what they might perceive as a diminuation of property rights. 

We’ll see…

Senator Yee Introduces Bill to Prevent Unfair Evictions of Domestic Violence Victims. San Francisco Ordinance Spurs Statewide Legislation to Protect Victims
 
Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco/San Mateo) today announced legislation to prevent landlords from unfairly evicting domestic violence victims.  Senate Bill 782 is modeled after a San Francisco ordinance authored by Supervisor Carmen Chu and sponsored by District Attorney Kamala Harris, which passed in February.
 
“It is unconscionable to force a domestic violence victim from their home,” said Yee.  “Evicting a survivor of domestic violence not only results in being re-victimized, but unfairly strains a family attempting to recover.  The possibility of eviction discourages women from coming forward to report incidents of domestic violence.  If a victim wants to stay in his or her home, they should be allowed that opportunity and should not face added pressures of moving or possible homelessness.”

More deets after the jump.

Under current law, if a victim determines he or she must relocate to a safe environment, he or she can petition the court to break his/her lease without penalty.  However, the reverse option is not currently available in jurisdictions besides San Francisco.  The result is that many landlords force victims to leave their homes under a nuisance clause in their rental agreement.
 
SB 782 would allow a tenant to petition the court to stay in their homes if issued an eviction notice based primarily on the acts of domestic violence.  In order to be eligible, tenants must have written documentation by a qualified third party (such as a police officer, therapist or licensed clinical social worker) substantiating the abuse.  Tenants would still be subject to all the terms of their lease.
 
“Victims of domestic violence should have the opportunity for safe recovery in stable housing,” said Chu.  “I applaud Senator Yee for addressing this issue at the state level.”
 
“Fleeing abuse leaves many families homeless,” said Harris. “With this legislation, Senator Yee is giving domestic violence survivors across our state the same protection afforded to victims in San Francisco, where we fought to change the law so domestic violence survivors don’t lose their homes as a result of violence that has been inflicted upon them.”
 
“This bill extends important tenant rights to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking,” said Emily Murase, Executive Director of the San Francisco Department on the Status of Women.  “Victims will no longer be subject to eviction based on noise, police activity, or other complaints.  These evictions had the adverse effect of discouraging women from coming forward against their batterers and pursuers. We need to encourage, not discourage, women to step forward.”
 
SB 782 will be considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee on April 21.
 
Last year, Senator Yee authored and successfully passed another law that victim advocates believe will result in more women coming forward to law enforcement after falling victim to domestic violence.  SB 1356 protects domestic violence survivors from the threat of incarceration when they refuse to testify against their abuser in court.  
 
According to the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence, nearly 44,000 people were arrested statewide in 2006 for domestic violence charges.
 
If you are a victim of domestic violence or if you want to report an incident of domestic violence, call the 24-hour-a-day toll-free National Hotline at 1-(800) 799-SAFE or 1-(800) 787-3224 (TDD).

 

BILL NUMBER: SB 782 AMENDED
BILL TEXT

AMENDED IN SENATE  MARCH 31, 2009

INTRODUCED BY   Senator Yee

                        FEBRUARY 27, 2009
 

An act to add Section 1161.3
to the Code of Civil Procedure, relating to unlawful detainer.

LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL’S DIGEST

   SB 782, as amended, Yee. Residential tenancies: domestic
violence.

   Existing law governs the hiring of real property based on the
terms of the agreement, or on the behavior of the parties. Under
existing law, a tenant may notify the landlord in writing that he or
she, or a household member, was a victim of an act of domestic
violence, sexual assault, or stalking, and intends to terminate the
tenancy. The tenant is released from any rent payment obligation 30
days following the giving of the notice, or as specified.

   Existing law establishes the criteria for determining when a
tenant is guilty of unlawful detainer of a premises, and includes
committing nuisance in this regard. Existing law provides, until
January 1, 2012, for the purposes of the law of unlawful detainer,
that if a person commits any
specified act or acts of
domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking against another tenant
or subtenant on the premises, there is a rebuttable presumption
affecting the burden of proof that the person has committed a
nuisance on the premises if the victim or a member of the victim’s
household has not vacated the premises.

   This bill would create a defense to an action for possession under
the unlawful detainer provisions described above if the court
determines that (1) the tenant or the tenant’s household member is a
victim of an act or acts that constitute domestic violence, sexual
assault, or stalking, and (2) the notice to vacate is substantially
based upon the act or acts against the tenant or a tenant’s household
member that constitute domestic violence, sexual assault, or
stalking, including, but not limited to, an action for possession
based on complaints of noise, disturbances, or repeated presence of
police. The bill would require a landlord to retain in strictest
confidence all information regarding any act or acts of domestic
violence, sexual assault, or stalking that is received in confidence
from a tenant or a tenant’s household member who is a victim, except
as specified. 

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:

  SECTION 1.   The Legislature finds and declares all
of the following:

   (a) Domestic violence is a widespread problem impacting one in
three households in the United States in all communities.

   (b) Safe housing for domestic violence victims is essential for
safe recovery.

   (c) Countless studies demonstrate that stable, safe housing is a
public safety issue, a critical element of ensuring the safety of
domestic violence and stalking victims.

   (d) Landlords may evict domestic violence and stalking victims
based upon complaints of noise, fighting, or repeated visits from the
police to a victim’s residence, even though they are results of
crimes committed against the victim.

   (e) Domestic violence and stalking victims should not lose their
housing because they are being abused and should not be forced to
leave their homes in order to report abuse.

   (f) The United States government and many states, cities, and
counties already have enacted comprehensive tenants’ rights
protections for victims of domestic violence and stalking.

  SEC. 2.   Section 1161.3 is added to the
Code of Civil Procedure
, to read:
   1161.3.  (a) It shall be a defense to an action for possession
under paragraph (4) of Section 1161 if the court makes both of the
following determinations:
   (1) The tenant or the tenant’s household member is a victim of an
act or acts that constitute domestic violence, sexual assault, or
stalking.
   (2) The notice to vacate is substantially based upon the act or
acts against the tenant or a tenant’s household member that
constitute domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking, including,
but not limited to, an action for possession based on complaints of
noise, disturbances, or repeated presence of police.
   (b) In making the determinations under subdivision (a), the court
shall consider evidence, which may include, but is not limited to,
any of the following:
   (1) A copy of a temporary restraining order or emergency
protective order issued pursuant to Part 3 (commencing with Section
6240), Part 4 (commencing with Section 6300), or Part 5 (commencing
with Section 6400) of the Family Code, Section 136.2 of the Penal
Code, Section 213.5 of the Welfare and Institutions Code, or Section
527.6 of this code, that protects the tenant or household member from
further domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.
   (2) A copy of a written report by a peace officer employed by a
state or local law enforcement agency acting in his or her official
capacity, stating that the tenant or tenant’s household member has
filed a report alleging that he or she is a victim of domestic
violence, sexual assault, or stalking.
   (3) Other written documentation from a qualified third party of
the act or acts constituting domestic violence, sexual assault, or
stalking.
   (c) If two or more cotenants are parties seeking relief under
subdivision (a), and each alleges that he or she was a victim of
domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking perpetrated by another
cotenant who is also a party, the court may determine whether a
tenant acted as the dominant aggressor in the act or acts
constituting domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking. In
making the determination, the court shall consider the factors listed
in paragraph (1) of subdivision (b) of Section 13701 of the Penal
Code. A tenant who the court determines was the dominant aggressor in
the act or acts constituting domestic violence, sexual assault, or
stalking is not entitled to relief under subdivision (a).
   (d) Unless the tenant or the tenant’s household member has
obtained a protective order against the alleged abuser to vacate or
stay away from the dwelling unit as a result of an act or acts
constituting domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking against
the tenant or the tenant’s household member, the tenant may not
obtain relief under subdivision (a) if all of the following apply:
   (1) The tenant was granted relief against the landlord under
subdivision (a) in an action for possession of the dwelling unit
within the previous five years.
   (2) A subsequent action for possession of the dwelling unit has
now been filed.
   (3) The notice to vacate in the subsequent action for possession
is substantially based upon continuing acts constituting domestic
violence, sexual assault, or stalking by the same person alleged to
be the abuser in the previous action for possession.
   (e) For the purposes of this section:
   (1) “Household member” means a member of the tenant’s family who
lives in the same household as the tenant.
   (2) “Protective order” means a temporary restraining order or
emergency protective order issued pursuant to Part 3 (commencing with
Section 6240), Part 4 (commencing with Section 6300), or Part 5
(commencing with Section 6400) of the Family Code, Section 136.2 of
the Penal Code, Section 213.5 of the Welfare and Institutions Code,
or Section 527.6 of this code, that protects the tenant or household
member from further acts of domestic violence, sexual assault, or
stalking.
   (3) “Qualified third party” means a peace officer or victim
advocate employed by a state or local law enforcement agency, a
licensed clinical social worker (LCSW), or a marriage and family
therapist (MFT), acting in his or her official capacity.
   (4) “Victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking”
means any person who has been, or is currently being, subjected to
one or more of the following:
   (A) Domestic violence, as defined in Section 6211 of the Family
Code or Section 13700 of the Penal Code.
   (B) Sexual assault, as defined in Section 261, 261.5, 262, 286,
288a, or 289 of the Penal Code.
   (C) Stalking, as defined in Section 1708.7 of this code or Section
646.9 of the Penal Code.
   (5) “Written documentation from a qualified third party” means a
document signed and dated within the preceding 60 days by a qualified
third party stating all of the following:
   (A) That the tenant notified the qualified third party that he or
she was a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.
   (B) The time, date, and location of the act or acts that
constitute the domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.
   (C) That the tenant informed the qualified third party of the name
of the alleged perpetrator of the act or acts of domestic violence
or stalking, if known to the victim.
   (f) Nothing in this section shall be construed to affect the
tenant’s liability for delinquent rent or other sums owed to the
landlord, or the landlord’s remedies in recovering against the tenant
for those sums.
   (g) A landlord shall retain in strictest confidence all
information regarding any act or acts of domestic violence, sexual
assault, or stalking that is received in confidence from a tenant or
a tenant’s household member who is a victim, except to the extent
that disclosure is necessary to provide for a reasonable
accommodation for the victim or is otherwise required pursuant to
federal, state, or local law. The victim may authorize limited or
general release of any information otherwise deemed confidential
under this subdivision.

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2 Responses to “Senator Leland Yee Acts to Prevent Evictions of Domestic Violence Victims”

  1. Matt says:

    Who is the cutie on the right?

  2. sfcitizen says:

    Carmen Chu