Too Many 911 Calls a Reason for Rental Eviction?

by Isaac Benmergui, Esq on November 11, 2013

That’s a difficult question to answer. Thankfully this isn’t (currently) a question here in California, but a Philadelphia federal court is sure grappling with this one pretty heavily. Apparently, a law there in the state practically forces landlords to evict their tenants for repeat 911 calls. To some degree, the law makes sense.911

Safety is a concern. Clearly. Statistically, if someone is repeatedly calling 911, not only does the property face potential damage for whatever reason, but all the other residents could face potential harm. However, there are some serious concerns with the possible results of this law.

Does it violate the First Amendment? Real estate law attorneys are apparently arguing that, among other points. Specifically, let’s say you have a volatile significant other in your apartment, wanting to kill you, and you have two choices: call 911 and potentially get evicted, or just get killed. Tough choice? To make it worse, apparently the law seems to target the landlords, not the renters. A total of three calls made by a renter, for example, would result in fines against the landlord. But it, apparently, doesn’t state specifically that landlords have to evict the alleged renter!

What choice do landlords have, really? This is simply an indirect way of stating that renters must be evicted for constantly calling for help. In fact, the original ordinance was a lot stricter. It was alleged, though, that the original ordinance was unconstitutional, for obvious reasons, given that a renter literally had only two choices: call 911, or get evicted. It now seems that the landlord has no choice….

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