SafeNet president praises domestic violence protections in Erie’s proposed eviction ordinance


Robyn Young has a unique vantage point when it comes to a proposed new eviction ordinance that could receive final approval from the Erie City Council Wednesday night.

Young is the CEO of safe net, 1702 French Street, which offers a variety of programs and assistance to local victims of domestic violence.

A sign outside an apartment building in Southeast Erie advertises the availability of rental units.  Filmed on September 12, 2023.

The City Council on Oct. 4 gave preliminary approval to the new ordinance, which seeks to further define legal grounds for eviction by Erie landlords and tenants and provide other protections for tenants, including victims of domestic violence.

Previous coverage: The Erie City Council gives preliminary approval to a new landlord-tenant ordinance

However, Young is also a landlord who owns rental properties in Erie. She supports the new landlord-tenant ordinance, proposed by City Councilwomen Susanna Faulkner and Yasmin Flores, which is on the agenda for Wednesday’s council meeting for a final vote.

Young said the specific provisions in the proposed law, which are intended to protect victims of domestic violence, are a good idea.

SafeNet helps approximately 2,000 local victims of domestic violence each year.

“To me, it makes sense from both perspectives,” Young said. “We’ve helped individuals who have experienced domestic violence find new places to live. We’ve done advocacy on behalf of individuals with landlords, trying to get the locks changed and those types of things.”

“It’s important for everyone to feel safe and secure,” Young said. “It’s good to have laws like this as an (additional) measure of protection.”

Protection from domestic violence

For example, the Erie Code states that upon request by a tenant who is a survivor of domestic violence, landlords must allow the tenant to terminate the lease regardless of the length of the lease and without the penalty of early termination.

The tenant must provide at least 30 days’ written notice; vacate the property no later than the early termination date; Submitting court-approved paperwork related to domestic violence, such as an order of protection from abuse.

In such circumstances, the tenant agrees to pay the landlord an amount equal to two times the monthly rent to end the lease early.

Furthermore, if a tenant who is a survivor of domestic violence requests new locks on the rental unit, the landlord will change these locks at the tenant’s expense.

Landlords can also enter into a new lease/amend a lease with a domestic violence survivor if a tenant wants to stay and someone who was living in the same unit is evicted for being abusive.

Such provisions are common components of what are widely known as “just cause” or “good cause” eviction laws across the country. The laws seek to define what can lead to eviction, beyond existing state/local laws, and give tenants the right to renew their leases.

Erie City Councilwoman Susanna Faulkner.

Faulkner said she proposed the ordinance to provide more clarity for renters, as well as additional layers of protection regarding eviction. Pennsylvania Landlord/Tenant Law It states the underlying grounds for eviction and requires the landlord to give tenants written notice of eviction for non-payment of rent or any breach of the lease/end of lease term.

Erie City Councilwoman Yasmin Flores.

If the City Council gives final approval to the ordinance, Erie would be the third city in the state to enact such an ordinance, after Philadelphia and State College, Faulkner said.

Young also noted that the Erie Act complements protections already in place across the federal government Violence against women law, It was signed by former President Bill Clinton in September 1994 to comprehensively address domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking.

Federal law, for example, prohibits landlords from evicting/denying rent to an applicant because he or she is a victim of domestic violence, and states that criminal acts related to domestic violence cannot be grounds for eviction with respect to a victim of domestic violence.

“You want to protect the victims,” Young said. “As a landlord, you don’t want anyone to be abused on your property and you don’t want other tenants’ lives to be interrupted by abusive behavior.”

Collapse of the decree

The proposed Erie Act also addresses:

Tenant’s rights in case of violation of the law. The new law makes it illegal for any landlord to terminate a lease with a current tenant due to code violations at the property, unless the tenant violates specific provisions in the lease agreement. Furthermore, the law prohibits landlords from amending/amending a lease “when the change is intended to recover the cost or value of corrections necessary to bring the property into compliance” with city code enforcement rules.

There is one exception, according to the law: “This section does not apply to any landlord who wishes to terminate an existing lease after issuing a notice of violation so that the building can be rehabilitated and the violation cured if the law is formally enforced.” Issues a certification that such action requires vacating the building.

Revenge. The new law makes it illegal for a landlord to “terminate a lease, modify any term or condition of any existing lease, or deny rent” to a prospective tenant for filing a complaint about federal, state, or local housing conditions or because of the tenant’s “status as a survivor of violence.” Home.

If the tenant alleges retaliation, and the lease is terminated or modified within six months of the tenant filing the complaint, the landlord “bears the burden of proving a non-retaliatory reason for such termination or modification.”

Penalties. Any owner who violates the provisions of the law “shall be punished by a fine of not less than $100 and not more than $1,000 for each violation.”

Other provisions. The proposed law would protect renters from being evicted through no fault of their own and give renters 60 days’ notice of a rent increase. Currently, 30 day notices are typical for rent increases, according to the 1,100 members Apartment Association of Northwest Pennsylvania.

Furthermore, a tenant who has received notice of a rent increase, and has chosen not to accept such rent increase, has the right to terminate the lease by providing written notice to the landlord within 30 days of being notified of the landlord’s intent to increase rent.

The proposed law clarifies that landlords can still evict tenants for good/sufficient reasons, such as non-payment of rent; Engaging in “nuisance activity” that interferes with the use of the drug or jeopardizes health/safety; and/or causing “significant deterioration of the property beyond normal wear and tear.”

Change of position on the decree

Brandon Penn, president of the local apartment association, told the City Council on Oct. 4 that he considers the new law “fair,” after speaking with both Faulkner and City Council President Chuck Nelson about it.

Pennsylvania The proposal was originally criticized In a mid-September interview with the Erie Times-News, he said the state law was fair enough in terms of protecting renters. He initially feared that Erie’s new landlord-tenant law might make it harder for landlords to evict problem tenants when they have good reason to do so.

The City Council meets Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. in the Bagnoni Council Chambers at City Hall, 626 State St. The meeting can be watched on Facebook And Youtube.

Contact Kevin Flowers at Follow him on Twitter at @ETNflowers.

This article originally appeared on the Erie Times News website: Domestic violence agency supports new proposed eviction law in Erie

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