Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed legislation that takes aim at local governments’ “crime-free housing” policies, which have required rental housing providers to evict tenants following arrests or to reject applicants with past convictions.

Assemblywoman Tina McKinnor

Effective Jan. 1, 2024, AB 1418 by Assemblywoman Tina McKinnor, D-Inglewood, will prevent local governments from imposing penalties or requiring landlords to evict tenants based on calls to law enforcement, suspected criminal activity, or other alleged nuisances. It will also prohibit local governments from requiring or even encouraging landlords to conduct criminal background checks during tenant screening. Additionally, the legislation will stop governments from forcing the eviction of an entire family due to a felony conviction of a single family member.

The California Apartment Association supported the legislation, which will not prohibit landlords from conducting criminal background checks voluntarily or from terminating tenancies based on nuisance activity. It’s worth noting, though, that some jurisdictions already prohibit or limit the use of criminal background checks during the screening process.

Legal challenges to crime-free housing policies have been significant.  A recent legal settlement was entered into between the U.S. Department of Justice, the city of Hesperia, and the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Office over allegations of civil rights violations.

The author of AB 1418 has emphasized the societal impact of her legislation.

“We want to make sure we keep Black and brown people in their homes and that [crime-free housing rules] are not used as an excuse for gentrification,” McKinnor has said, as reported by the Los Angeles Times.