A heavily rewritten bill aimed at protecting domestic violence victims from housing discrimination cleared a House committee Monday.
The Civil Law and Procedure Committee voted 8-5 to advance the Senate-passed measure to the full House for debate.
“It has been a collaborative effort” between advocates for victims and housing interests, bill sponsor Senate President Pro Tem Sharon Broome said.
Senate Bill 174 aims to prevent housing discrimination against domestic abuse victims. Leases often have provisions that make domestic violence or frequent police visits a cause for eviction.
Too many domestic violence victims have been kicked out of apartments when they need safe and stable housing, Broome said.
The legislation would ensure that victims are not evicted solely because they are victims of a crime, and that victims attempting to transition to independence are not turned away only because of the history of their abuse. If passed, victims also would be able to terminate a lease early to escape an abuser. Victims would have to submit reasonable documentation, such as an order of protection or certification by a Department of Children and Family Services contracted provider.
Representatives of the Apartment Association of Louisiana had objected to provisions of Broome’s bill, stalling it in the House committee last week.
Since then, a compromise was struck, with protections added for the apartment owners, and association opposition was removed.
“I didn’t realize there would be nearly 50 amendments,” Apartment Association lobbyist Jennifer Ansardi said. “It makes us more comfortable. Is it a perfect bill? No, but we want to be part of the solution.”
Rep. Raymond Garofalo, R-Chalmette, said he did not think the bill was written “tightly enough” to protect apartment owners. He objected to the bill’s passage.
As it is now written, the proposal would allow landlords to evict victims if their abusers repeatedly returned or disturbed the peace — even if they show up uninvited. The law also would only apply to apartment buildings or group dwellings with more than four units.
Additionally, the measure would no longer allow victims to sue landlords for damages. And in order to get out of a lease, an act of domestic violence must occur on the leased property.