STATE OF NEW YORK
April 2, 2014
Introduced by Sen. ROBACH -- read twice and ordered printed, and when
printed to be committed to the Committee on Codes
AN ACT to amend the civil rights law, in relation to the right to call
for police and emergency assistance and providing victim protections
The People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and Assem-bly, do enact as follows:
1 Section 1. Article 9 and sections 90 and 91 of the civil rights law,
2 as renumbered by chapter 310 of the laws of 1962, are renumbered article
3 10 and sections 100 and 101, and a new article 9 is added to read as
5 ARTICLE 9
6 RIGHT TO CALL POLICE AND EMERGENCY
7 ASSISTANCE/VICTIM PROTECTIONS
8 Section 90. Legislative findings.
9 91. Right to call for police and emergency assistance; victim
11 92. Protections not applicable to breaches of lease, illicit
12 activities or other violations of law.
13 93. Right of property owners to be free of penalty for respect-
14 ing the rights of an occupant to request police or emer-
15 gency assistance.
16 94. Limitation on right to request police or emergency assist-
17 ance prohibited.
18 95. Defenses.
19 96. Removal of the perpetrator of violence while assuring
20 continued occupancy by victim.
21 97. Remedies.
22 98. Guidance authorized.
23 § 90. Legislative findings. No victim of domestic violence, or other
24 person threatened with violence or in jeopardy of harm, should fail to
25 access police or emergency assistance when needed because of the fear
26 that doing so may result in losing their housing through eviction or
27 other actions to remove them from the property. Some local laws or poli-
28 cies have the effect of treating such requests for police or emergency
EXPLANATION--Matter in italics (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
 is old law to be omitted.
S. 6924 2
1 aid as a disturbance constituting a "public nuisance" or otherwise
2 treating the individual faced with the violence and in need of assist-
3 ance as an undesirable tenant or undesirable influence on the neighbor-
4 hood based upon a call for help to their home. Legislation is needed to
5 assure that victims of violence or threats of harm or violence are not
6 penalized in relation to any law enforcement activity and intervention
7 necessary to address offender accountability and victim safety.
8 Municipalities throughout the state have increasingly begun to adopt
9 local laws and ordinances to address public nuisances or other intru-
10 sions on the quiet enjoyment of their residents and communities. Despite
11 their intent to aid communities, overly broad ordinances have instead
12 had a harmful chilling effect deterring victims of violence and crime
13 from accessing police assistance and have jeopardized public safety.
14 Given the negative impact that certain provisions have on the community
15 at large, and to victims of crime in particular, remedial legislation is
16 necessary that will both protect the rights of domestic violence and
17 crime victims to access essential police assistance, as well as preserve
18 the locality's right to address conduct that may undermine the communi-
19 ty's safety or integrity.
20 The legislature therefore finds that it is desirable to clarify the
21 law in this area in order to protect women and others from violence and
23 The legislature further finds that there is a need to assure that
24 victims of violence, including persons threatened with harm or violence,
25 have a clear right to access assistance to protect personal or public
27 The legislature finally finds that clarification in this area will
28 advance the state's interest in stopping crime and further the aims of
29 penal laws that depend on citizens to report incidents of crime to law
31 With this remedial legislation the legislature specifically intends
32 that the coverage of this article includes, but is not limited to, laws
33 or ordinances that use any form of cumulative point system for the
34 purpose of identifying any persons or properties who or which would be
35 subject to municipal enforcement action.
36 § 91. Right to call for police and emergency assistance; victim
37 protections. 1. Any person who is a victim of domestic violence, as
38 defined in section four hundred fifty-nine-a of the social services law,
39 or who otherwise believes he or she is in need of police or emergency
40 assistance has the right to request such assistance and to be free of
41 any direct or indirect penalty or reprisal for accessing assistance, or
42 because he or she resides at a property where domestic violence or other
43 law enforcement activity occurred. Other than as provided in section
44 ninety-two of this article, no victim of conduct which has been used as
45 the grounds for the application of a local law or ordinance established
46 for the purpose of regulating nuisances shall be directly or indirectly
47 penalized, or otherwise subject to reprisal by application of such local
48 law, including by termination or refusal to renew a tenancy or by
50 2. No residential occupant shall be required, either orally or in
51 writing, to waive rights under this article, and any such waiver shall
52 be void and unenforceable.
53 § 92. Protections not applicable to breaches of lease, illicit activ-
54 ities or other violations of law. The protections of this article shall
55 not be deemed to prohibit a municipality from enforcing an ordinance or
56 local law, nor restrict a landlord from terminating, evicting or refus-
S. 6924 3
1 ing to renew a tenancy, when such action is premised upon grounds other
2 than access of police or emergency assistance or is otherwise premised
3 on conduct unrelated to the residential occupant's status as a target or
4 victim of violence or harm.
5 § 93. Right of property owners to be free of penalty for respecting
6 the rights of an occupant to request police or emergency assistance. No
7 landlord or other property owner shall be subject to fines or loss of
8 permits or licenses by a municipality for failing to take steps to
9 remove an occupant who has exercised rights under this article.
10 § 94. Limitation on right to request police or emergency assistance
11 prohibited. A municipality, municipal authority, landlord or property
12 owner shall not prohibit, restrict, penalize or in any other way direct-
13 ly or indirectly limit any person's exercise of rights under this arti-
14 cle. The protections of this prohibition shall extend to any residential
15 occupant upon whose behalf a third party has called for police or emer-
16 gency assistance.
17 § 95. Defenses. 1. It is a defense to any judicial or administrative
18 action or proceeding taken by any municipality or municipal authority
19 enforcing any local law or ordinance that the enforcement action direct-
20 ly or indirectly penalizes a residential occupant or property owner for
21 the exercise of rights under this article. Prior to initiation of any
22 such enforcement action or proceeding all parties and any residential
23 occupant that may be so impacted shall be given written notice by the
24 municipality of the protections of this article and shall have the right
25 to be heard in the action or proceeding to advance the defenses provided
26 by this article.
27 2. It is a defense in any action or proceeding by a landlord or other
28 owner of real property to regain possession of that property that the
29 action or proceeding directly or indirectly penalizes a residential
30 occupant for the exercise of rights under this article. Any residential
31 occupant whose right to continued occupancy may be impacted by the
32 outcome shall be given notice of the action or proceeding by the party
33 initiating the action or proceeding and shall have the right to appear
34 as a necessary party in accordance with the provisions of the civil
35 practice law and rules and the real property actions and proceedings law
36 in order to advance the defenses provided by this article.
37 § 96. Removal of the perpetrator of violence while assuring continued
38 occupancy by victim. Actions including termination, eviction or refusal
39 to renew a leasehold interest or termination of any other form of lawful
40 occupancy through a judicial proceeding may be carried out against the
41 perpetrator of such violence or harm. Notwithstanding the terms of an
42 existing lease, written or oral, or other form of occupancy agreement,
43 any person with rights described in section ninety-one of this article
44 shall have the right to continue in occupancy, and the court may so
45 order, for a term equivalent to the balance of the original term and
46 under the same terms and conditions as provided in the original lease or
47 occupancy agreement.
48 § 97. Remedies. Any person or entity aggrieved by a violation of the
49 protections created by this article shall have the right to bring an
50 action or special proceeding in a court of appropriate jurisdiction to
51 seek damages and/or declaratory and injunctive relief with respect to
52 such violation. A prevailing plaintiff may be entitled to an award of
53 costs and attorney's fees.
54 § 98. Guidance authorized. The New York state office for the
55 prevention of domestic violence and the division of criminal justice
56 services, upon consultation with the other, are jointly authorized to
S. 6924 4
1 provide guidance with respect to drafting of local nuisance ordinances
2 and evaluation of their impact on access to police and emergency
4 § 2. This act shall take effect immediately and shall apply to all
5 pending actions and proceedings.