Press Release from Sen. Charlotte Burks, D-Monterey; April 5, 2010:
Legislation Lets Victims End Lease Agreements, Relocate More Easily
NASHVILLE – Victims of domestic abuse would be able to end lease contracts early and flee their abusers under a bill sponsored by Sen. Charlotte Burks (D-Monterey).
“Escaping a dangerous environment is the best way a domestic violence victim can prevent future abuse,” Burks said. “Victims should have the right to relocate for the safety of themselves and their children.”
The bill (SB902/HB323) would allow a victim of domestic abuse, sexual assault or stalking to terminate a lease upon submitting an order of protection, a police or medical report, or a written report from a domestic violence or child abuse agency.
In a survey of domestic violence shelters and legal service agencies cited by the Tennessee Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, nearly two-thirds reported they had worked with victims who wanted to break their leases out of safety concerns. In one case, a woman wasn’t allowed to break her apartment lease after being raped by a tenant in the same building.
Two-thirds of the surveyed shelters and agencies also said they had worked with victims who were evicted after incidents of domestic violence. On several occasions, women were evicted for calling the police.
“It is shameful that victims of domestic violence would be blamed for the abuse perpetrated against them. It’s a clear sign of a broken system that needs to be fixed,” Burks said.
The bill is scheduled to be heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.