New Jersey Assemblyman Gary Schaer (D-Passaic) will be introducing the “Immigrant Tenant Protection Act,” which, if enacted, would prohibit landlords from using a tenant’s immigration status to obstruct their housing rights.
Assemblyman Schaer joins Senators Nia Gill and Sandra Cunningham who sponsored the bill in the New Jersey Senate.
Senator Gill’s bill, which Assemblyman Schaer is sponsoring in the Assembly, represents the most comprehensive expansion of fair housing policy in State history, according to Schaer’s office.
Studies have demonstrated that immigrant communities are less likely to report crimes and
utilize the justice system, making them more vulnerable to having their housing rights violated. The Immigrant Tenant Protection Act prohibits landlords from using immigration status to force a tenant to vacate a rental property.
The bill creates an affirmative defense for tenants when an eviction has already begun based upon their citizenship status. The legislation allows tenants to bring civil action against landlords to recover damages, seek civil penalties up to $2,000 per violation, cover legal costs and provide equitable relief. To protect tenants from retaliatory action, their immigration status will not be subject to discovery during civil proceedings.
According to the Census Bureau, 22.7% of New Jersey’s population are foreign-born, nearly
double the national average, including 475,000 undocumented residents. Immigrant families have been vital to our State’s urban revitalization and economic development; ensuring legal protections is critical for increasing community inclusivity.
Title VIII (Fair Housing Act) of the 1968 Civil Rights Act, created sweeping protections against housing discrimination, this legislation creates a legal framework to enforce the housing rights of New Jersey’s immigrant residents.
“New Jersey has a responsibility to guarantee the rights of every resident, regardless of immigration status,” said Assemblyman Schaer, “This legislation establishes penalties that protect against discriminatory and exploitative rental practices that harm our working