Senator Marie Pinkney introduced Senate Bill 99, or the Crime Free Ordinances Bill, late last month, and the bill is already out of committee and on the Senate Ready List, meaning it could get a vote on Thursday.
The bill would prohibit municipal ordinances that require eviction of tenants for criminal activity by a tenant, member of the tenant’s household, or a guest.
“Crime-free housing ordinances are problematic for the following reasons:
- The definition of criminal activity is generally vague and open to interpretation, and may include low-level offenses such as trespassing, loitering, and disorderly conduct.
- The standard for what is considered criminal activity does not require an arrest or conviction, and instead, can consist of merely an allegation or contact with the police.
- These ordinances penalize victims of crime for seeking help from the police.
- These ordinances can result in evictions of tenants based upon racially motivated complaints by neighbors.”
Currently, at least 6 municipalities in Delaware have crime-free housing ordinances. Generally, these ordinances require landlords to include an addendum on their lease agreements prohibiting a tenant, member of the tenant’s household, or a guest from committing a criminal activity within a specified distance of their unit. If a tenant, member of the tenant’s household, or a guest commits a certain number of criminal activities within a specified time period, the landlord must initiate eviction proceedings.
This bill comes at the recommendation of the African American Task Force, which was established in 2020. In addition, the 2020 Statewide Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing Choice, a report produced by the Delaware State Fair Housing Consortium, lists the removal of crime-free housing ordinances and legislation banning such ordinances as one of its goals for ensuring that people within the protected classes have equal access to housing.
|SENATE BILL 99 – PROHIBITING MUNCIPAL ORDINANCES THAT REQUIRE EVICTION OF TENANTS FOR CRIMINAL ACTIVITY BY A TENANT, HOUSEHOLD MEMBER OR GUEST||Currrent Status – Out of Committee 5/10/23|
|House Sponsors – Wilson-Anton, Baumbach, Morrison||Senate Sponsors – Pinkney, Lockman, Gay, Hoffner, Sokola, Townsend|
|House Yes Votes –||Senate Yes Votes –|
|House No Votes –||Senate No Votes –|
|House Absents or Not Voting –||Senate Absent or Not Voting –|
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