Complete Topic List


Domestic Violence Housing Protections

What is Domestic Violence?

"Domestic violence" includes physical harm, bodily injury, sexual activity compelled by physical force, assault, or the infliction of fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury, sexual activity compelled by physical force, or assault, not committed in self-defense, on the complaining family or household members.

Violence Against Women Act

VAWA protects anyone who is:

  • being denied housing assistance based on acts of violence committed against them;
  • a victim of actual or threatened domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking, or an affiliated individual of the victim; AND
  • living in, or seeking admission to, a federally assisted housing unit covered by VAWA.

Status as a victim is not a basis for denial of admission/assistance, termination, or eviction in housing.

Actual or threatened criminal activity directly relating to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking does not constitute grounds for a landlord to terminate a victim’s tenancy or housing assistance.

Abuser’s actions cannot be considered “serious or repeated” lease violations or “good cause” to terminate or evict a victim.

A victim of domestic violence who comes forward will have their identity protected from the public domain.

Housing providers may, but are not required to, ask for documentation of abuse. 

Steps to Terminate Your Lease

A victim may terminate a lease agreement without penalty or liability if the victim is:

(1) a tenant;
(2) to a residential lease;
(3) who:

(a) is a victim of domestic violence OR
(b) fears imminent domestic violence;

(4) against:

(a) the tenant OR
(b) the tenant’s minor children;

            (5) if the tenant or tenant’s minor children remain in the leased          premises.

The tenant must provide advance written notice to the landlord stating:

  • the tenant (who is the victim);
  • fears imminent, domestic violence
  • from a person who is named in a protection order;
  • the tenant needs to terminate the tenancy; AND
  • the specific date the tenancy will terminate.

The notice must be delivered by mail, fax, or in person to the landlord before the termination of the tenancy.

A landlord may not disclose information provided by a tenant documenting domestic violence.

A tenant is responsible for rent for the full month in which tenancy terminates.  A tenant is also responsible for an additional one month’s rent.  The rent must be paid on or before the termination.  The landlord has a duty to mitigate. 

A tenant will be liable for late, unpaid rent, or other amounts owed before the lease was terminated. 

A tenant is relieved from all other contractual obligations for payment of rent or other charges after the lease is terminated.

A tenant is not required to provide a copy of the court order to the landlord.

If you are experiencing domestic or sexual violence you are not alone.  Call your local domestic violence and rape crisis center for help.  Find them at

DISCLAIMER: This information is not legal advice. If you have a legal problem, you should talk to a lawyer and ask for advice about your options.

July 2018