AB 418 allows survivors to end a residential lease in order to move to safe housing without economic ramifications
SACRAMENTO, CA - Governor Jerry Brown late yesterday signed Assemblymember David Chiu's AB 418, a bill that makes permanent existing state law that allows a survivor of domestic violence to terminate a residential lease in order to move to safer housing. The bill also decreases the survivor's remaining rent obligation from 30 days to 14 days.
"I'm thrilled that the Governor is standing with us to support survivors of domestic violence and abuse," said Assemblymember David Chiu. "Residential leases should not impede a survivor's ability to flee a dangerous or potentially fatal situation. This law is good for survivors, for their neighbors, and for their landlords."
Without AB 418, a survivor could only terminate a lease by going to court and obtaining a restraining order or by filing a police report. Unfortunately, many survivors cannot easily take either of those actions due to cultural aversions, language barriers or burdensome bureaucratic processes within family courts. In many cases, survivors who seek restraining orders or contact the police also face a real risk of escalating violence by their perpetrators.
"Today, California's lawmakers showed that they understand the challenges domestic violence victims face and the importance of safe, affordable housing options," said Kathy Moore, Executive Director of the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence. "We're grateful for Assemblymember Chiu's leadership on AB 418, which now permanently establishes the ability for survivors to leave an unsafe environment with the financial resources to establish safe housing elsewhere."
The new law will also decrease the survivor's remaining rent from the existing 30 days to 14 days. Reducing additional rent obligations will help survivors find safe and decent replacement housing - crucial to combating homelessness among survivors. More than 80 percent of domestic violence survivors entering shelters identified "finding housing I can afford" as a top need, second only to "safety for myself".
"By reducing the rent obligation to 14 days, this bill frees up funds that could be the difference between a domestic violence survivor securing safe housing and experiencing homelessness," said Anya Lawler of the Western Center on Law and Poverty. "It is a modest measure that could have a big impact on those who need to utilize its provisions to escape an unsafe situation."
"The National Housing Law Project applauds the Governor and the Legislature for increasing housing protections for survivors," said Executive Director, Marcia Rosen. "This law will help survivors flee to safety and establish new homes."
Assemblymember David Chiu (D - San Francisco) is the Assistant Speaker Pro Tempore of the California State Assembly and represents the 17th Assembly District, which encompasses the eastern portion of San Francisco.