Position Statement -2019
A.2665-A (Lavine) / S.4657-S (Holyman)
The Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York (WBASNY) supports this legislation, which would establish the right of tenants to call for police or emergency assistance without fear of losing their housing as a result of landlord actions or local nuisance laws. This legislation is particularly important to our organization because it seeks to protect victims of domestic violence unfairly affected by the law as it currently exists.
Nuisance ordinances often are triggered if police or emergency services provide aid or are called to a property a certain number of times over a set period of time (i.e., three calls for help to the police over 12 months). In general, these triggers are applied without consideration for whether the call was made by the victim of a crime seeking police assistance out of legitimate fear. Nuisance ordinances typically hold property owners responsible for the behavior of their tenants. Therefore, landlords often choose to evict the tenants who trigger nuisance ordinance violations. Studies show that landlords may use these nuisance ordinances as a basis to discriminate against victims of domestic violence by evicting them because of the actions of their abusers.
Allowing victims of domestic violence to lose their housing under nuisance ordinances puts vulnerable families at risk and increases costs to communities that, consequently, must provide shelter services to survivors and their children. This legislation would maintain the use of nuisance ordinances in the manner originally intended, while avoiding unintended consequences and discrimination against victims of domestic violence and other crimes. It would ensure that all New Yorkers can request lifesaving emergency aid in response to threats and violence without fearing they will be doubly victimized by losing their housing.
WBASNY consists of over 4,200 members from twenty (20) chapters across New York State dedicated to promoting the advancement of the status of women in society and of women in the legal profession, and to the fair and equal administration of justice. Our members include individuals from all levels of state and federal benches, as well as prominent attorneys practicing in all areas of the law, educators and government leaders.