April 30, 2013

Innocent Tenants and Landlords Penalized for Reporting Abuse

April 30, 2013

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: (212) 549-2666; media@aclu.org

NORRISTOWN, Pa. – Pennsylvania state representatives today urged the repeal of an unconstitutional municipal ordinance in the city of Norristown that punishes innocent tenants and their landlords for requesting police assistance. The ordinance was challenged last week by the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Pennsylvania, and the law firm of Pepper Hamilton, LLP on behalf of a domestic violence victim, Lakisha Briggs, who faced eviction from her home after requesting police protection from an abusive ex-boyfriend.

Reps. Mike Vereb (R-Montgomery) and Todd Stephens (R-Montgomery) called upon Norristown officials to repeal the local ordinance that penalizes landlords and encourages them to evict their tenants when the police are called to a property three times in four months for "disorderly behavior," including responding to incidents of domestic violence. The representatives said that if Norristown does not act to repeal the ordinance, then they will take action at the state level to bar laws like Norristown's that target domestic violence victims.

"Lakisha Briggs has suffered through a terrible ordeal, but it is heartening that her story has inspired lawmakers to step up to put an end to these unfair laws," said Sara Rose, staff attorney with the ACLU of Pennsylvania. "We sincerely hope that Norristown repeals this ordinance and that state lawmakers take action to protect the rights of all tenants to call the police for help."

"Lawmakers across the country should pay heed to what is happening in Norristown and Pennsylvania," said Sandra Park, senior staff attorney with the ACLU Women's Rights Project. "Nobody should ever have to choose between enduring abuse or becoming homeless."

More about this case and Briggs' story can be seen here.

Stay Informed