Lengthy Seashore Metropolis Council Passes Emergency Ordinance To Fight Tenant Harassment – The Sign Tribune
Photo courtesy of Norberto Lopez
During a special meeting this morning, Moncton City Council approved an Emergency Ordinance to Combat Harassment against Tenants.
The regulation would prohibit a number of acts by landlords that would qualify as harassment including, but not limited to:
• No timely repairs and maintenance
• Excessive entries for inspection
• Threats to report a tenant to the US Department of Homeland Security
• Threatening a tenant with physical harm by word or gesture
• Violating laws prohibiting discrimination
• Violation of a tenant’s right to privacy by requesting information on residence or citizenship status
• Communicating with a tenant in a language other than the tenant’s primary language in order to intimidate, confuse, deceive or annoy the tenant
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The regulation would also allow tenants to sue their landlords in civil court for violating the regulation. Landlords found violating would be subject to a fine of a minimum of $ 2,000 and a maximum of $ 5,000 per violation.
If the renter is over 65 or disabled, the court may award $ 5,000 per violation.
Andrew Mandujano, a community organizer at Moncton Forward, said he has firsthand experience of harassing tenants.
He said he saw cases of landlords refusing to tackle water leaks, black mold and rat infestation in their tenants’ units. This is associated with illegal eviction attempts, intimidation, threats and the dissemination of false information to tenants.
“This exact scenario has been playing out between vulnerable tenants and slum lords across the city for months,” said Mandujano.
During a public comment, the owners took the opportunity to voice their concerns about the regulation, particularly the lack of “bad faith” and community contribution.
In the language of “bad faith”, tenants would have to prove in court that their landlords acted with bad faith when violating the regulation. As it stands, there is no malicious language in the regulation.
Jesse Howard, a small property owner in Moncton, said “landlords and tenants really need to work together” and the regulation would “only create additional problems”.
Lawyer Joshua Christian of the Legal Aid Foundation said good landlords had nothing to fear about the regulation.
He said only “serious, outrageous criminals” should be a cause for concern and that blanket “bad faith” would only serve as a safeguard against harm to landlords.
Vice Mayor Andrews seemed intent on getting the ordinance passed as written.
“Any one of those people who have spoken of bad will, I know if any of you are good landlords, you don’t have to worry about that anyway,” Andrews said.
Councilors Mary Zendejas, Jeannine Pearce, Dee Andrews, Roberto Uranga and Rex Richardson voted in favor of the ordinance.
Councilors Stacy Mungo, Suzie Price, Daryl Supernaw and Al Austin were not present at the meeting.
The next city council meeting will take place on Tuesday, November 17th at 5 p.m. via conference call