Smith-Wade-El rallies for tenants’ rights in Steelton

HARRISBURG, Oct. 11 – State Rep. Ismail Smith-Wade-El, D-Lancaster, lent his voice in the support of tenants’ rights at a rally in Steelton this morning.

Smith-Wade-El began his morning in Steelton to join state Rep. Dave Madsen, D-Dauphin, and other House Democratic members from central Pennsylvania to advocate for legislation that would improve the plight of tenants in Pennsylvania today.

“Thousands of Pennsylvanians are suffering through an affordable housing crisis,” Smith-Wade-El said. “It’s particularly hard for those who are struggling financially and need to use government assistance or because they faced eviction through no fault of their own. Rapacious landlords are taking advantage of our neighbors’ vulnerability by forcing them to sign unfair leases or discriminating against them based on their income, credit or eviction history. Simply put, tenants need to be treated fairly, and that is why I’m introducing legislation that would significantly increase protections for tenants in Pennsylvania.”

Smith-Wade-El will be introducing three bills that would improve the lives of tenants in Pennsylvania.

Fair chance housing through eviction record protection: According to Smith-Wade-El, many tenants face eviction through no fault of their own, yet under current law that record will follow the person for years even when a court does not find that a tenant breached a lease. To help Pennsylvania families, this legislation would establish eviction record sealing procedures in certain cases. The bill would still allow eviction cases to be unsealed for five years if it was found that the tenant did indeed breach the lease. Any eviction cases dealing with a “not-for-cause” eviction or a foreclosure eviction would be automatically sealed. The bill will also retroactively seal all cases which meet the “not-for-cause” criteria, which would give a clean slate to many families who are looking for safe and affordable housing.

Preventing housing discrimination: Smith-Wade-El said too many individuals and families in Pennsylvania are denied housing because they are struggling financially and may need to use governmental assistance. This bill would amend the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act by prohibiting housing discrimination based on a tenant’s participation in a governmental housing assistance program or their source of income.

Instituting strong protections for residential tenants: Smith-Wade-El said Pennsylvania tenants also are suffering at the hands of disreputable landlords, being forced to sign leases containing unfair provisions or facing discrimination based on their income or credit history. In addition, rising rents and extraneous fees place a burden on renters that is unfair, requiring additional protections. This bill would extend key protections for tenants, including limiting security deposits to two months’ rent, prohibiting certain lease stipulations, and limiting demands for extensive rental and credit histories.  

Inquiries about Smith-Wade-El’s legislative package can be directed to his office at (717) 283-4218.