Legal Protections for Tenants Seeking Law Enforcement Help Supported by Counties

On February 15, 2023, Associate Policy Director Sarah Sample testified before the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee in support of SB 0450 – Real Property – Limitations on Summoning Law Enforcement or Emergency Services – Prohibition. 

The House Judiciary Committee considered the bill’s cross-file, HB 0215, on February 1, and has since issued a favorable report.

SB 0450 would prohbit landlords from using a lease containing provisions that limit the ability of tenants to summon the assitance of law enforcement or other emergency services. Counties maintain that individuals in potentially life-threatening situations should never be disuaded from seeking help from the appropriate authorities, and applaud the intent of this bill to shield individuals in these situations from potential retaliation by property owners.

From the MACo Testimony:

No individual in immediate need for assistance from law enforcement or emergency services should be deterred from accessing these vital county services. SB 450 understandably seeks to protect individuals experiencing domestic abuse, sexual assault, and many other serious life-threatening offenses, by shielding them from potential repercussions by property owners arising from these police calls. Through carefully constructed amendments proposed by the bill sponsor and adopted by the Maryland House of Delegates for the 2022 version of this bill (HB 323), the scope of SB 450 ensures it does not extend to certain situations in which individuals repeatedly request assistance with parking or when neighbors retaliate against one another by summoning law enforcement. MACo had previously expressed concerns that these scenarios could potentially result in much needed and overextended public safety resources being diverted to situations not warranting them.