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February 25, 2013: NHLP Co-Sponsors Domestic Violence Bill Expanding Protections for Survivors

On February 22, 2013, Senator Mark Leno introduced SB 612 that would amend the early lease termination provisions for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, and elder or dependent adult abuse under California law. SB 612 is co-sponsored by the National Housing Law Project and the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence.

Currently, Civil Code 1946.7 permits a tenant to notify his/her landlord in writing that s/he or a household member is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, and elder or dependent adult abuse and that the tenant intends to terminate the lease. Existing law requires that the tenant attach to the notice to terminate a police report or restraining order. The tenant may then quit the premises after notification and is obligated for a limited payment of rent. The notice to terminate the lease must be given within 180 days of the date the police report or protective order was issued.

SB 612 would expand these protections to victims of human trafficking as well as broaden the documentation options by allowing survivors to use a statement from a qualified third-party, including a medical professional, health care provider, licensed mental health services provider, social worker, domestic violence counselor, a sexual assault counselor, or a human trafficking caseworker. SB 612 would also add confidentiality protections to the current law for survivors who need to break their leases. The bill would prohibit landlords from disclosing any information provided by a tenant under these provisions to a third-party unless the disclosure is consented to in writing or is required by law or order of the court.

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