Victims of domestic violence and abuse can be booted from their homes for calling 911 too many times, because of laws aimed at protecting residential neighborhoods from disruptive tenants.
The laws — called nuisance property laws — are spreading to neighborhoods across the country, but their implementation can have unintended negative effects on tenants in abusive households, who feel they cannot call for help, according to the New York Times.
Pennsylvania resident Lakisha Briggs, 34, is one tenant who felt trapped by the nuisance property laws. Police told her that if she called 911 for help one more time, she would be evicted from her home, according to the Raw Story.
The property laws allow officials to pressure landlords to remove routy tenants if they have called 911 more than three times in a four month period.
Not wanting to be evicted, Briggs, a victim of domestic violence, said she felt forced to allow her ex-boyfriend into her home last summer after he showed up on her doorstep , having just been released from prison.
“If I called the police to get him out of my house, I’d get evicted,” Briggs said. “If I physically tried to remove him, somebody would call 911 and I’d be evicted.”
Weeks after Briggs’s ex-boyfriend moved in, he beat her and left her with a 4-inch cut from a broken ashtray. Briggs reportedly begged neighbors to not call police before she lost consciousness from the wound.
But a neighbor called police anyway, who ordered Briggs’s landlord to evict her in 10 days or else lose a rental license. Officials decided to drop the eviction order after Briggs filed a federal lawsuit with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union.
Police said they were concerned for the safety of Briggs’s neighbors, and that when she had called police 10 times between January and May, they had seen no evidence of physical abuse on her.