Governor Newsom takes aim at ‘crime-free housing’ policies’ by signing AB 1418 into law


Some explanation is needed with this headline because nobody is pro-crime. Back when then-District Attorney Chesa Boudin was ousted, we observed that regardless of political views or party affiliation, there is not a lone person who likes being robbed or having their car windows smashed.

If she wants to be re-elected, current San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins will have to articulate what dent she has put into the city’s crime rate and how she plans to clean up a cesspool, with Boudin no longer the boogeyman. Our first choice for the job is Batman, but we haven’t heard back from the caped crusader, and Police Commissioner Gordon has long retired.

The job security for Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price is no more certain with an agenda of progressive criminal justice reforms that included alternatives to incarceration, refusing to charge juveniles as adults, and holding police accountable, but let’s put politics aside.

What does AB 1418 do and what doesn’t it do? Let’s start with what it does.


It prohibits local governments from imposing a penalty against a resident, owner, tenant, landlord, or other persons as a consequence of contact with a law enforcement agency.

This is really a broadening of protections afforded to victims of domestic violence.

These evolving laws recognized that survivors of domestic violence should not be victimized twice by facing eviction because they were being abused.


Read our earlier blog on handling domestic violence in rental units and the Violence Against Women Act ⇾

AB 1418 says that nobody should be penalized for calling 911 or having police respond to the property and when there is a crime or imminent danger, tenants should not fear eviction by calling emergency services.

The law further outlaws local governments from requiring or encouraging landlords to conduct criminal background checks when screening tenants. This is a moot point here in the Bay Area, where locales have been pioneers in banning inquiries into the checkered pasts of prospective tenants. Lastly, the newly minted law will ban governments from forcing the eviction of an entire family based on a conviction of a single family member.


The law does not prohibit owners from taking control of their properties

We know that many of you have recurrent police presence in the rental properties you own or manage. The mere presence of law enforcement responding to a complaint is not grounds for eviction, but we may be able to commence an unlawful detainer action because of the underlying behavior, as we explained in an earlier webinar on handling crime, violence, and domestic flare-ups in rental units.


When it comes to ‘crime-free’ housing policies that are oftentimes a partnership between landlords, property managers, tenants, and local law enforcement agencies, common sense should prevail. 


A tenant seeks emergency assistance for nonviolent criminal activity – even if the crime was committed away from the property. Isolated incidents of noise, not cutting the grass, congregating, loitering, or “unruly” gatherings. These and other behaviors are what nuisance/crime-free ordinances attempt to address.

Sometimes, these programs have gone overboard and if not implemented with care, led to discriminatory practices and aggressiveness in eviction filings.

In distant memory, we recall Oakland’s anti-loitering ordinance left residents afraid to gather outside, even in their own yards.


In 2018, Oakland City Council scrapped the decades-old law that targeted public housing.


What constitutes a nuisance and is an evictable offense is best approached with an attorney who practices landlord-tenant law on a daily basis. 

Having been injected into landlord-tenant disputes for the better part of three decades, Bornstein Law has a good instinct on how to proceed whenever there is concerning behavior, and whether the tenant can remedy the nuisance, or the conduct is so egregious that it is not “curable.”

In case you haven’t noticed, we have a problem of crime, addiction, and mental health issues in the Bay Area and inevitably, these societal woes will spill into rental units. Our firm is comfortable in addressing it and providing informed advice.