By Becky Bower
A California bill that would prohibit landlords and property managers from inquiring into the immigration or citizenship status of a rental applicant or tenant was proposed early February. Introduced by David Chiu (D-San Franciso), Rob Bonta (D-Oakland), Gonzalez Fletcher (D-San Diego) and Ash Kalra (D-San Jose), with the principle co-author Senator Wiener, AB 291 would make the immigration or citizen status of any person irrelevant towards the issue of housing liability.
AB 291 prohibits landlords or property managers from serving a notice to quit the property or from initiating an unlawful detainer action based on the immigration or citizenship status (or perceived immigration or citizenship status) of the tenant. The bill also authorizes a tenant to assert, in defense in an unlawful detainer action, that the landlord or property manager violated this provision.
Landlords and property management companies are prohibited from threatening to disclose the immigration or citizenship status of the tenants in order to influence them into vacating the property. If passed, you will also be prohibited from disclosing the tenant’s immigration or citizenship status to “any immigration authority, law enforcement agency, or local, state, or federal agency.” AB 291 prohibits landlords and property managers from reporting them or associated individuals to immigration authorities, serving a notice to cure or a notice to quit based on perceived immigration status or citizenship status, or threatening to do any of those acts within 180 days of the occurrence of specified events. This bill ultimately declares that the immigration or citizenship status of any person is irrelevant to any issue of liability.
This stance towards immigration comes as no surprise, as the state Senate adopting a resolution on March 6th that called upon federal agents to stop enforcing immigration laws in schools, hospitals, churches, and marches. Los Angeles Police Chief, Charlie Beck, has also stated that the LAPD does not intend to “work in conjunction with Homeland Security on deportation efforts.” Regardless if AB291 passes or not, make sure the tenant screening provider you’re using scans all of your rental applicants through the terrorist watch list (OFAC) and the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL).
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