Governor Brown Signs Immigrant Tenant Protection Act

Thursday, October 5, 2017

AB 291 strengthens laws to be sure that immigrant tenants do not face intimidation and retaliation in their homes


SACRAMENTO--Governor Brown today signed a bill by Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco), the Immigrant Tenant Protection Act, which strengthens state law to protect immigrant tenants from intimidation and retaliation in their homes. The measure will take effect on January 1, 2018.


“Tenants should not have to live in fear simply because they are immigrants or refugees. Trump’s escalating war on immigrants is ripping apart families and mass deportations could be our new reality,” said Assemblymember Chiu. “This bill will deter the small minority of landlords who unscrupulously take advantage of the real or perceived immigration status of their tenants to engage in abusive acts. I appreciate the leadership of Governor Brown on this civil rights issue.”

 

“We need this law to protect families with undocumented members from this type of abuse,” said Maria, a grandmother from Oakland who testified earlier this year in committee about her experience with a landlord who threatened to report her family members to ICE if they did not stop asking for much-needed repairs. “No one should have to experience the fear, pain, or harassment my family has suffered just because they are undocumented.”

“AB 291 makes clear that immigration status should not be used as leverage against tenants by landlords who want to profit off of slum conditions or unlawfully evict families to take advantage of rising rents.  In a year that has brought unimaginable levels of fear into immigrants’ lives, we hope that this bill will offer them some measure of security in their own homes,” said Jith Meganathan, Policy Advocate for Western Center on Law & Poverty, a co-sponsor of the legislation.

AB 291 bars landlords from disclosing information related to tenants’ immigration status for the purpose of retaliation, harassment, or to influence a tenant to vacate the home. The bill would also prohibit landlords from threatening to report tenants to immigration authorities, whether in retaliation for engaging in legally-protected activities or to influence them to vacate.

Landlords are in possession of sensitive information about tenants such as their social security numbers, the number of people in their household, the language(s) they speak, what they do for a living, and when they are home. This measure will make sure that this information is not misused by landlords and will take away one avenue that the Trump Administration could use to deport our immigrant neighbors.

As Chair of the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee, Assemblymember Chiu received complaints from around the state describing incidents where landlords threatened to report tenants to immigration authorities unless they vacated immediately. In many cases, these threats are made to retaliate against tenants for reporting habitability issues, such as exposed electrical wiring and vermin, which landlords are legally required to fix. Threats are even made in connection with gentrification, when, in order to raise rents, long-time tenants are suddenly targeted for eviction based on their suspected immigration status (see stories below). 

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Assemblymember David Chiu (D–San Francisco) is the Chair of the Housing & Community Development Committee of the California State Assembly. He represents the 17th Assembly District, which encompasses eastern San Francisco. Learn more at:  https://a17.asmdc.org/