Domestic Violence

 

FAIR HOUSING AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

In May 2022, New York State added domestic violence status as a protected class under NYS Human Rights Law. Although “domestic violence” is not listed explicitly as a protected class under the federal Fair Housing Act, the law has repeatedly been used to protect survivors of domestic violence due to a disparate impact based on gender. Claims brought by survivors of domestic violence may also involve other protected classes, such as race, national origin, or disability.

EXAMPLES OF HOUSING DISCRIMINATION AGAINST PEOPLE WHO HAVE EXPERIENCED DOMESTIC VIOLENCE:

  • A landlord or public housing authority learns that you have experienced domestic violence in the past and rejects your application for tenancy as a result

  • Landlords choose to evict survivors based on noise or property damage caused by the abuser, even when the abuser did not live in the home.

  • Your public housing authority terminates your housing voucher because you have called the police to your home for protection from domestic violence

  • A city or police department pressuring landlords to evict tenants whenever criminal activity, including domestic violence, occurs at a property

  • Creating an environment where tenants feel like they cannot call the police to report domestic violence because they face eviction if they call too many times

  • A landlord suddenly applies rules to you that are not applied to other tenants after the landlord learns that you are in an abusive relationship; or

  • Nuisance ordinances 

SELF CERTIFICATION 

A housing provider cannot require that you provide documentation of abuse. He or she can ask for it, but then must accept one of the following forms of documentation:

  • Self-certification

  • Police report

  • Court record, or 

  • A statement from a service provider, like your counselor or lawyer.

Exception: Your housing provider may be able to require third-party documentation if he or she receives conflicting information about domestic violence, such as two household members each naming each other as the perpetrator. A statement from a service provider, for example, a case manager, counts as third-party documentation.

 

NEW YORK STATE HOUSING RIGHTS

  • NYS laws allow you to break your lease if you have an Order of Protection. There are rules and regulations that apply to this law.  If you are up to date on your rent, this law prevents the landlord from attempting to obtain the remainder of the rent assigned in your lease. 

  • NYS laws prohibit housing discrimination based on your status as a domestic violence victim, except when you are in, or applying to live in, a building where the owner also lives and that only has one or two units. 

  • New York has laws to protect the confidentiality of phone numbers, addresses, and voter registrations.  

  • Shelters are required to accept service animals or therapy dogs.

  • Housing providers are required to adopt emergency transfer plans to allow tenants to move to safer locations.

VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN’S ACT (VAWA)

In addition to fair housing protections, domestic violence survivors have additional support provided under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) of 1994. VAWA protects all victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking, regardless of gender.

 

Under VAWA, A Housing Provider:

  • cannot deny an applicant admission into housing because of domestic violence

  • cannot terminate a survivor’s housing assistance because of domestic violence

  • cannot evict a survivor because of domestic violence, criminal activity related to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking where the tenant is or has been the victim

A. a landlord or housing agency can only evict a survivor/victim for domestic violence if there is an actual and imminent threat to employees or other tenants if the survivor is not evicted

B. if the abuser is on the lease with the domestic violence survivor, the housing provider is allowed to evict the abuser and allow the survivor to continue to live in the home

  • Covered housing providers must also provide all tenants threatened with eviction a Notice of Occupancy Rights under VAWA (Form HUD-5380).

On March 7, 2013, VAWA 2013 was signed into law. The law significantly expanded housing protections to victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking across HUD’s core housing and homelessness programs. 

 

On March 15, 2022, President Biden enacted the VAWA Reauthorization Act of 2022. The updated bill enhances protections for survivors of violence by improving compliance review processes in federally assisted housing, ensuring no survivor is denied housing access or evicted from their current housing because of the crime committed against them.

 

The bill also amends the federal definition of “homelessness” to include the experiences of survivors escaping or attempting to escape domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, stalking, or human trafficking. The immediate family of the victim and any member of a victim’s household are also protected. VAWA further protects victims on tribal lands as well as LGBTQ+ and immigrant victims.

 

If you have been the victim of domestic violence and feel you have been discriminated against by your housing provider/landlord, please contact us for assistance. 

 

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RESOURCES

 U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT (HUD) RESOURCES

OTHER NATIONAL RESOURCES:

NYS AND OTHER RESOURCES

OTHER RESOURCES: