UPDATE: Gov. Brown signs bill targeting discrimination against tenants

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Gov. Jerry Brown on Oct. 5 signed a bill that would crack down on rental property owners who discriminate against tenants based on immigration status.

Under AB 291, dubbed the Immigrant Tenant Protection Act, a landlord could face civil penalties if he or she attempts to influence a tenant to vacate the  dwelling unit or attempts to recover possession of the dwelling unit based on the individual’s immigration status. The legislation, by Assemblyman David Chiu, D-San Francisco, offers protections against eviction for tenants whose landlords demand to see Social Security numbers or other validating documents after the landlord previously approved the tenant for occupancy with or without that information.

Moreover, AB 291 would provide previously approved tenants with an automatic defense against unlawful-detainer lawsuits that attribute evictions to a lack of identifying documents.

Assemlyman David Chiu

CAA agreed to support the bill after securing exceptions to the request for information. The law will not interfere with a landlord’s ability to:

  • Request information or documentation necessary to determine or verify the financial qualifications of a prospective tenant or to determine or verify the identity of a prospective tenant or prospective occupant; or
  • Respond to a subpoena, warrant, or other order issued by a court; or
  • Comply with any legal obligation under federal law, including but not limited to, any legal obligation that provides for rent limitation or rental assistance to a qualified tenant.

“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,” Chiu said, as reported in this Los Angeles Daily News story.

In a letter supporting the bill, CAA wrote:  “The organization does not support unscrupulous landlords who attempt to evict a tenant under the guise of a changed or updated ‘identification’ policy.

“Just as California has adopted laws to protect immigrants in their role as employees, it is certainly consistent and reasonable to extend the same protections to immigrants when it comes to housing.”

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  • […] Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a bill that will deter landlords from discriminating against any tenant based on their immigration status. AB 291, introduced by Assemblyman David Chiu, D-San Francisco, is set to protect tenants from unethetical landlords who seek to intimidate them by threatening to report them to immigration authorities, or those who seek to acquire possession of the premises based off a tenants’ inability to provide proof or documentation of their immigration status. [ Learn More ] […]