Landlord Liability

I understand the desires here, but it seems you are putting landlords in a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation. They do evict people, they get sued under some federal civil rights law. They don’t evict, the city comes down hard on them.

Snellville city officials are considering passing a measure that would in effect make landlords responsible for the gang activity of their tenants.

 “We had a situation in the city where a street-level gang terrorized a Snellville neighborhood,” said Police Chief Roy Whitehead.

According to the chief, these individuals committed such acts as burglary, breaking and entering, and statutory rape. Under the new ordinance, the landlord of the property in which the alleged gang members resided would be responsible for evicting the offenders.

4 comments

  1. Nicki says:

    You’re correct that the law places landlords in a wierd position. But at the same time, since I have both been a landlord and have been dealing with a lengthy and intractable struggle against what’s locally called a “disorderly house,” I support any measure that would place some culpability on those who enable the functioning of such houses. It is a long and complex process trying to deal with such nuisances through criminal means — dealing with it through landlords and such is faster, and by passing such a law many landlords will take a more active interest in screening out potential problem tenants beforehand or will be more proactive about kicking them out.

  2. CHelf says:

    This has to be the most rediculous move on the Police Chief’s part to push this. Landlords are not law enforcement. Nor are they willing to risk lawsuits for alleging that renters are involved in gang activity.

    If the police think these residents are involved in gang activity, then arrest them. Do not rely on landlords to do your work for you. And do not force them to put themselves in a situation where they are sued for discrimination based on rumors.

    If these people did commit crimes, they should be arrested and prosecuted. If they serve their time, then they are back in society.

    Keep in mind when renters are typically evicted it is usually under the watchful eye of an officer of the court depending on the juridiction. You cannot hand law enforcement power over to landlords by force and expect all to go well for them. Odds are if the renters are involved in gang activity, they will not just pack their bags and happily move out. Will the chief then be responsible for what happens next?

  3. Demonbeck says:

    What if they are playing pool in the privacy of their own homes?

    I am sorry if that thought offends anyone.

  4. Nicki says:

    The problem, Chelf, is that the burden of proof is high for most of the offenses in question. For a landlord to evict someone, however, there’s a limited burden of proof.

    My questions about this bill are logistical. Namely, how does it square with the existing laws pertaining to eviction and what would standard would apply to trigger the law’s use?

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