Domestic Violence Victim Penalized for Seeking Help
Can an eviction notice be served for calling the police for help with a domestic violence emergency? If the eviction notice served to one Surprise woman is allowed to stand, then the answer seems to be yes.
Nuisance ordinances effectively label a property a nuisance when a certain number of police calls originate there in a particular timeframe. These laws are meant to help reduce true nuisance calls for minor situations which ultimately add millions of dollars to the taxpayer’s bill and keep the police away from real work or from situations that truly require their help. Unfortunately, nuisance laws often apply even for serious situations and even when the caller is the victim. Nuisance laws often dictate that property owners abate the nuisance or face steep penalties. For renters, this often leads landlords to respond by evicting their tenant, not renewing their lease, or even instructing them not to call 911.
In 2010 the city of Surprise Arizona enacted a city ordinance to help curb nuisance police calls. Move forward a few years and a Surprise woman received notice in September 2014 that she would be evicted from the rental home she lived in. The charge? She had made too many calls to police, including several domestic violence calls. For a period of about six months in 2014 this Surprise woman had been the victim of domestic violence by her now ex-boyfriend who choked and punched her and threatened her with weapons. Apparently, per the Surprise city ordinance, four or more calls to the same address within 30 days is considered a nuisance, even when the caller is a victim. The landlord, or property owner, was served with a letter that basically said that he would not be considered innocent in any future actions with respect to his property, even though he had nothing to do with the calls. This lead the landlord to issue an eviction notice. The Surprise woman, backed by the American Civil Liberties Union, has filed a lawsuit against the city of Surprise challenging the nuisance law.
Of course there are two sides to ever story, and there are other supporting details that might support the actions of the police and the landlord Further information can be found in the article linked below.