Housing Committee Advances Bill to Help Victims of Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault

The Joint Committee on Housing, co-chaired by State Senator Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton), advanced legislation last week that would provide housing rights and protections for victims of domestic violence, rape, sexual assault and stalking.

“No one should have to choose between their personal safety and finding or keeping housing – and yet all too often, this is the situation that victims of domestic violence find themselves in. This bill will help those victims who face a financial and/or legal barrier to leaving their home and prevent housing discrimination based on a past history of abuse. I’m proud to support this bill and look forward to seeing it passed into law by the full Legislature,” said Senator Eldridge.

“An Act Relative to Housing Rights for Victims of Domestic Violence” (S586/H386), filed by State Senator Cynthia Creem (D-Newton) and State Representative Ellen Story (D-Amherst) would bar a landlord from evicting a tenant or refusing to rent to someone because he/she was the victim of one of these crimes. A landlord maintains the right to evict if the lease is violated for reasons unrelated to domestic violence issues.

The bill would also allow a victim of these crimes, with appropriate documentation, to vacate their lease or rental agreements without financial penalty. This will make it easier for a victim of domestic violence or sexual assault to leave their home quickly if necessary. The bill also gives victims the right to have their locks changed.

Receiving a favorable report from the Joint Committee on Housing is an important first step in the legislative process. The bill will now be considered by additional committees before moving on to House and/or Senate floor for a vote.

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