University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
Title "Policing Black Residents as Nuisances: Why Selective Nuisance Law Enforcement Violates the Fair Housing Act"
Date 2018
Author Rachel Smith
External Link
Abstract Across the county, cities and suburbs especially those with increasing minority populations are passing 'crime-free' housing laws and other broad new nuisance laws that give police unprecedented discretion to compel evictions. Towns are also discriminatorily enforcing existing nuisance laws, which generally prohibit endangering the public welfare or creating unreasonable annoyances. These laws' broad nature allows for highly discretionary enforcement. Often the only way landlords can cure a violation of these laws is to evict the tenant or pay a steep fee. This leads many landlords to evict tenants over alleged and often minor nuisances. These trends have risen in tandem throughout the 2000s: Scholars have noted that many historically white suburbs with increasing black and Latino populations are disproportionately enforcing these broad nuisance laws against minority residents forcing them out of their homes, and perhaps even out of the neighborhood.

This is illegal. Discriminatory nuisance law enforcement that deprives
minority Americans of the opportunity to live in opportunity-rich suburbs violates the Fair Housing Act (FHA). The FHA prohibits municipalities from providing residents racially-discriminatory services. Further, it bars them from making housing unavailable to individuals, including through indirect methods such as discriminatory service provision. It also prohibits municipalities from coercing, threatening, or interfering with residents' enjoyment of their dwellings. Because discriminatory enforcement of nuisance law can have each of these effects, many towns are violating the FHA.
Source Harv. J. Racial & Ethnic Just.
Citation 34 Harv. J. Racial & Ethnic Just. 87-116

This Resource Relates To
case Williams v. City of Antioch (FH-CA-0006)

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