Pa. Lawsuit: Renters fear eviction over 911 calls

Discussion in 'Up to the Minute' started by Reader, Sep 1, 2013.

  1. Reader

    Reader New Member

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    http://bigstory.ap.org/article/pa-lawsuit-renters-fear-eviction-over-911-calls

    PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Last summer, Lakisha Briggs' ex-boyfriend, who was living with her, allegedly smashed an ashtray across her face, then stabbed her in the neck with the broken glass. She was airlifted to a Philadelphia hospital.

    Briggs had let him move in after a jail stint for a previous attack because she'd been afraid to call police when he showed up at her door. Not necessarily because of the threat of violence, but because one more call to 911 and Briggs knew she would lose her home, a tidy row house she rented in Norristown for herself and her 3-year-old daughter.

    Norristown has what's called a three strikes law, which threatens renters with eviction if they call 911 three times within four months. Their landlords lose their rental license under the ordinance, which is designed to promote safe neighborhoods in the gritty suburb.

    More at link......
     
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  3. ScarlettScarpetta

    ScarlettScarpetta When the going gets tough, drink coffee

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    Isn't that someone's bright idea..

    That is great.. Let's try and convince women to call the police because of abuse and then tell them they only get 3 calls.

    Do people actually read these stupid laws before they enact them?
     
  4. FigTree

    FigTree New Member

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    I'm just speechless!!
    Almost...
    What a STUPID law!
     
  5. Sonya610

    Sonya610 Former Member

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    Uhhh....do you have the a link to the actual law (.gov website) that says renters can be evicted if they call 911 three times???

    This sounds like utter errrm.....you know what.... to me.

    Post the actual statute. Seriously the NAACP and the SPLC would be all over this. This seems very very pretend made up IMO.
     
  6. Donjeta

    Donjeta Adji Desir, missing from Florida

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    http://norristown.org/code-enforcement

    Three Strikes and You’re Out! – How You Could Lose Your License to Operate a Rental Unit

    As a landlord it is your job to ensure that your tenants respect the rights of their neighbors to peace and good order. When Norristown police are repeatedly called to your property in response to disorderly conduct or other activities that disturb or threaten the neighborhood, landlords are expected to take action,

    Strike One: You will receive a notice via first class mail from the Norristown Code Enforcement Department identifying the property where the disturbances are occurring.

    Strike Two: If another instance of disorderly conduct occurs within two months of the first strike, you will be sent a second notice with instructions to develop a plan of action and provide this to the Norristown Code Enforcement Director. If you fail to develop a plan of action within the time limits specified, your rental license will be immediately revoked.

    Strike Three: If a third instance of disorderly conduct occurs within two months of the second strike, you will be informed of the time and date of a hearing at which the revocation of your rental license will be considered.

    In addition to disorderly conduct, you could lose your license to operate a rental unit because:

    1. You failed to correct property maintenance violations after receiving multiple citations.

    2. You are delinquent in tax, trash sewer and other municipal, school district or municipal authority charges.


    Apparently they changed the law last December to say that no tenants should be evicted over this but it seems like a meaningless paragraph to me.
    http://www.timesherald.com/article/...ense-ordinance-modified-by-norristown-council

    If there is a tenant who engages in disorderly conduct, drugs, firearms violations, prostitution etc. how is a landlord going to stop that happening on his property if not by eviction? Tell them nicely to please stop? Yeah, that'll surely work...

     
  7. Sonya610

    Sonya610 Former Member

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    That is NOT a .gov website. Plus that website lists rules concerning LANDLORDS not renters. Where is the legal statute that says a renter can be evicted for calling 911 three times in four months? I don't see it there?? Please point it out!

    The landlords are going to face the penalty. NOT the renters.

    Fair housing act and all that. Federal. Not a .org or a "bigstory.com" thing.
     
  8. Donjeta

    Donjeta Adji Desir, missing from Florida

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    It is the Norristown municipality official site.
    If you are a landlord and you're facing a penalty for your tenant's repeated disorderly or criminal conduct, what do you think you're going to do? What are your options to make them stop? Write them a letter and say this is your landlord, please don't do drugs anymore? Hey, I'm renting this house to you so please stop getting beaten up by the psycho stalker ex right now?

    Let's be realistic for a minute, eviction of the perceived troublemakers is going to look like a pretty tempting option.
     
  9. meanmaryjean

    meanmaryjean Verified RN (Pediatrics Specialty)

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    And the rule pertains only to 'disorderly conduct' by my reading. Reporting a CRIME is not disorderly conduct.
     
  10. Donjeta

    Donjeta Adji Desir, missing from Florida

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    http://ecode360.com/11550747


    This seems very strange to me. In my way of thinking, everyone is responsible for their own behavior and expecting landlords to prevent all nuisance behavior by guests that they haven't been able to make background checks on and have no way of even knowing who all will visit and in which states of mind. Heck, not even the tenants themselves can always control what their guests and family members decide to do.
    Not sure why it matters whose drugs they were if the landlord is responsible for all the guests too.
    So, the landlord is required to make a plan and take steps to try and stop the nuisance behavior but if his plan doesn't work he will be punished anyway.

    However, he has one way of being safe from punishment:
    Note the wording:
    Fails to diligently pursue the eviction process... It is clearly expected that landlords evict people who can't behave or make their guests behave.
    This seems to contradict the previous section somewhat but maybe it should just be read so that Norristown won't evict if the landlord doesn't and that the other tenants may stay even if the landlord is deemed unworthy of a rental licence.

    And a breach of lease would presumably be grounds for eviction.

    If I'm a landlord in Norristown, what this ordinance says to me is that the only proper course of action is to start evicting everybody at the first sign of trouble.
    Better yet, don't be a landlord in Norristown.
     
  11. Donjeta

    Donjeta Adji Desir, missing from Florida

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    But if said crime was committed in the rental dwelling it doesn't matter for the purposes of this ordinance if it was the tenant or somebody else. Crimes committed by family members of the tenant or unrelated guests are all considered violations.
     
  12. ArianeEmory

    ArianeEmory I know the pieces fit

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    The ACLU filed a test case on behalf of Briggs that challenges the constitutionality of such ordinances. Federal court arguments are set for this month in Philadelphia.
     
  13. Donjeta

    Donjeta Adji Desir, missing from Florida

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    I wonder why landlords haven't challenged the ordinance. It seems totally whacked to me that landlords can be held responsible for the behavior of people they may not even have known existed before there is an official letter in the mail.
     
  14. txsvicki

    txsvicki Active Member

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    If all is the truth, sounds like the lady was threatened and intimidated with eviction by the landlord who is intimidated by the city renter's license ordinance threat to not let him make money. So, the domestic abuser gets to continue because, maybe, cops don't always arrest him when called. It's nice how they lump domestic issues in with drugs and prostitution.
     
  15. T4Tide

    T4Tide Verified Registered Nurse

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    Isn't this kinda the same thing as a neighborhood covenant? I mean, if you acknowledge the agreement in the rental property papers, then can't you be evicted for it? In several local neighborhoods, property owners are required to keep up their yards, purchase a certain mailbox, pick up newspapers, fence dogs, not park on the curb, etc or they can be fined by the HOA. If the landlord chooses to purchase a home to rent, and the renters do not abide by the set forth agreements, then they should be evicted. Some rental agreements include not having pets or smoking in the rental unit. If you think you might call 911 more than 3 times, you probably shouldn't sign those rental papers. If I was the next door neighbor, paying my mortgage and raising my kids, I'd darn well think it fair. Most people never call 911. Others have only done so medical emergencies. If you've got a habit of doing so, and you don't have a medical need that warrants it, then you need to make some major life changes.

    However, I will admit to having no understanding of domestic abuse situations. The FIRST and ONLY time I would ever have to call 911 about something like that, my circumstances would change.
     
  16. al66pine

    al66pine New Member

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    From MSM article linked in the OP ---

    Lakisha Briggs & her 3 y/o daughter.
    "...she rented in Norristown for herself and her 3-year-old daughter."

    Briggs has 21 y/o dau.
    "...town's court brief, police were called to Briggs' home 10 times in the first five months of 2012, often over arguments with her21-year-old daughter and the ex-boyfriend,..."

    Briggs is 34 y/o.
    "I felt like I was being punished for being assaulted," Briggs, a 34-year-old nursing assistant, said Friday."


    Briggs -
    - Has a 3 y/o dau.
    - has a 21 y/o dau.
    And she is 34 y/o?

    These statements from the article do not compute (although, technically possible though adoption or fostering or ?).

    IMO, reporter omitted persons involved or omitted info or
    IMO, persons interviewed, either deliberately or inadvertantly, confused the reporter.
    Or perhaps both.
     
  17. mikkismom

    mikkismom Active Member

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    RSBM

    Totally possible IMO. I was in a teen mother group 27 years ago, and the youngest mother was 12! One girl had her child at 15 - HER mother was 30.

    Regarding the ordinance, the kind of codes are a very slippery slope. I am on our zoning board and we had an ordinance regarding 'trash left out'. Mainly, it was because of renters moving out days before trash came. Animals or storms came and dispersed the trash. There were enough complaints that a law was drawn up - 'if you left your trash out on the wrong days, we would pick it up and bill you". It didn't last long - renters who leave could care less about WHO picks up their trash and we ended up paying thousands of dollars to pick up peoples trash.

    Sometimes what LOOKS like a good thing in print doesn't necessarily go well in practice. According to the article:

    Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/b...47b7abd7786b45c8766f.html#bA2jggiqLkLLWufb.99

    jmo
     
  18. Sonya610

    Sonya610 Former Member

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    10 times in the first 5 months? And not just because of the boyfriend, but because of arguments with the daughter AND the boyfriend?

    And now the original story only focuses on the last incident where she was FORCED to let him back in after he was jailed for assaulting her?

    I don't believe for one minute that the only reason she let him move back in was because she was afraid to call 911. Fact is if someone may assault or even kill you then who cares about the rental agreement? Plus she has a three year old child in the home, she had no concern about the kid's welfare? <modsnip>
     
  19. flourish

    flourish Well-Known Member

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    Hmm. Say it isn't so.
    My boyfriend and I just rented a new place. One question on an application was, "Have you ever been the victim or perpetrator of domestic violence or stalking?" There was a spot for an explanation. I felt uncomfortable with the question, but answered it truthfully, as I was a victim of domestic violence in another state years ago. I didn't feel it was relevant nor any of their business, but I assumed (I know) it's a legal question as they are a large property management company here.

    In any case, I realize this isn't the same thing, but it reminded me and seemed relevant enough to share.

    Sent from my Event using Tapatalk 4
     
  20. not_my_kids

    not_my_kids New Member

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    Reading the website for the city, it looks like the original intention of the law has been twisted a little. It says three instances of disorderly conduct. Not, oh, if you call 911 three times, you're out. It says three instances of disorderly conduct, including needing LE to be called to your home.

    The way I understand it, say you call 911 because you are asthmatic and having trouble breathing. That does not count as one of your three strikes. Calling 911 because you let your loser boyfriend move in fresh off his latest jail stint and he beat the holy crap out of you, yeah, that's going to count as disorderly conduct, and well it should. The law seems to encourage adults to be adults, OMG, how horrible. I sort of support the city in this one.
     
  21. flourish

    flourish Well-Known Member

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    It's important to know and understand the dynamics of domestic violence when making judgements and assumptions about its victims. Assuming that disorderly conduct stems from someone letting their "loser boyfriend move in fresh off his latest jail stint" not only shows a lack of understanding about domestic violence but puts the blame on the victim (whether a man or a woman).

    A woman in the process of leaving an abusive partner is likely to have some trouble making a clean break, whether it's because of low self-esteem, poverty, or because there are joint children, it's not like every woman can just say, "Okay, see ya wouldn't wanna be ya" and never see their ex again because that might not be an option. So an abusive ex may be at an apartment complex to pick up children for visitation, but not because she's "letting her loser boyfriend move in" again.

    Another reason it can be difficult to make a clean break is because abusive partners don't give up their punching bags easily. So a woman may have left an abusive relationship, moved into a new apartment, and is still subsequently harrassed by the abusive ex. That's not "letting her loser boyfriend move in," either.

    So if a person living in an apartment has a restraining order against an abusive ex-partner, and has to call more than three times in a two-month period because abusive ex is coming to the apartment then she's to blame? That's not "letting your loser boyfriend move in," either.

    How awful--you get out of the abusive relationship alive, which not everyone can say. You survive, you move on, yet because your ex won't leave you alone, your landlord gets in trouble and people assume it's your fault and that you just let him show up, and now you get to move again. That's not encouraging adults to be adults--personal responsibility is being responsible for one's self--being held responsible for other adults' behavior which is out of your control is just inane and unrealistic.

    Finally, women who are beaten aren't like, "Oh yay! He just got out of jail so now he gets to come home and beat me again!" There's a lot that goes on in an abusive relationship, and to assume that women are "asking for it" is not only outdated, but just not true.

    Also, I think it's ridiculous to punish the landlords--encouraging adults to be adults means recognizing that adults don't have power and control over the actions of other adults. There's got to be a better way to solve the problem they seem to be trying to solve here. IMO
     

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