LANSING — State Representative Adam Zemke (D-Ann Arbor) plans to introduce legislation later this fall that aims to protect victims of domestic violence, among others. House Bill 5968 would prohibit local ordinances from retaliating against tenants, occupants or landlords who call to report domestic violence, a crime or an emergency situation.
If police are called to a property too often throughout a certain time period, the landlord may face exorbitant fines and lose his or her rental license, and the tenant may be evicted. The goal of such ordinances is to limit how often police are called to the same houses in an effort to reduce nuisance violations. However, these ordinances are instead punishing those who speak out about criminal activity, particularly domestic violence.
“I would like to believe that this is an unintended consequence of nuisance ordinances,” Zemke said. “However, it is imperative that we address the very real situations people find themselves in when reporting domestic violence or criminal activity, particularly when individuals reporting these incidences face eviction from their homes for doing so.”
Although these ordinances have been slow to spread in municipalities throughout Michigan, some localities are enforcing similar ordinances, and more could follow suit.
“This is a proactive step in protecting the victims of domestic violence and crimes when reporting incidences to the police,” said Zemke. “Particularly for victims of domestic violence, it is already difficult to make a report in the first place — we should not allow the system to work even harder against these brave individuals.”