Yes, there is a federal law, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), that prohibits a landlord from:
- Refusing to rent to an applicant solely because the applicant is, or has been, a victim of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, or stalking;
- Evicting a tenant who is the victim of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, or stalking because of threats or violent acts committed against the victim – even if the acts took place on the property, and even if they were committed by a household member or a guest; and
- Holding a tenant who is a victim of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, or stalking to a higher standard than other tenants in any way (noise, damage to the rental unit, etc).
While it is called the Violence Against Women Act, VAWA applies to all survivors of domestic violence, regardless of gender.
VAWA also created emergency housing transfer options in all federal housing programs. Survivors should be able to transfer to a different unit to have safer housing. And, some public housing authorities and subsidized housing providers provide a preference to domestic violence survivors on their waiting lists. Survivors may be able to secure subsidized housing more quickly than if they were on the regular waiting list.