Need Legal Aid Help? Get Started

City of Brooklyn Protects Renters Who Are Victims of Domestic Violence

Posted October 1, 2019
2:17 pm

The City of Brooklyn’s city council has passed a new law to protect renters who are victims of domestic violence. The new law makes it easier for victims of domestic violence to escape danger without going into debt. It also protects their future housing options.

Domestic violence is a leading cause of homelessness. Victims of domestic violence often need to move out of their homes to escape an abuser. But if a renter moves out before his or her lease is over, their landlord may try to charge rent until a new tenant moves in. If a victim of domestic violence cannot afford to pay the rent remaining under the lease, they may weigh the options and choose to stay in a dangerous situation. If the tenant decides to leave but not pay their landlord, this debt may stop them from finding a new place to live.

Brooklyn Councilwoman Meg Ryan Shockey was surprised to learn that Ohio is one of the only states that does not allow a tenant to break their lease without penalty to escape domestic violence. Councilwoman Shockey has lead Brooklyn’s Domestic Abuse Commission since 2018. She pushed to provide this protection to the people who live in Brooklyn.

The new Brooklyn ordinance will allow a tenant who is experiencing domestic violence to end his or her lease early without having to pay the remaining rent. (The landlord may keep the tenant’s security deposit, but must let the tenant out of their lease without charging them any more rent). To be protected under this new law, a tenant must show the landlord proof of domestic violence. Forms of proof include a civil protection order, a temporary protection order, and a no-contact order.

This article was written by James Schrer and appeared in The Alert: Volume 35, Issue 2.