Governor Signs Leno Legislation Strengthening Protections for Survivors of Domestic Violence and Human Trafficking

August 19, 2013

SACRAMENTO – Survivors of domestic violence and human trafficking received significant new protections today with Governor Jerry Brown’s signature of Senate Bill 612. The bill, authored by Senator Mark Leno, gives survivors of human trafficking the right to terminate residential leases in order to protect themselves against their abusers. The bill also strengthens existing protections for survivors of domestic violence who are forced to vacate a rental property for personal safety reasons.

“Today’s signature by Gov. Brown helps keep California families safe by ensuring that survivors of domestic violence, human trafficking and other abuses can relocate when their lives are in danger,” said Senator Mark Leno, D-San Francisco. “SB 612 strikes the right balance between protecting the safety of survivors and ensuring the certainty of contracts between landlords and renters.”

Senator Leno’s bill increases protections for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, elder or dependent abuse, and human trafficking who need to terminate a residential lease early to escape a dangerous environment and ensure their safety.  SB 612 also expands the type of documentation a victim can present to a landlord to demonstrate that abuse has occurred. The bill, which received bipartisan support in both houses of the Legislature, is co-sponsored by the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence, Western Center on Law and Poverty and the National Housing Law Project. It was supported by the California Apartment Association, the largest rental housing organization in the nation, and received broad support from numerous organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union, Crime Victims United, the California Police Chiefs Association and the California Catholic Conference.

“For many victims, the ability to relocate quickly can mean the difference between sleeping safely at night and living in fear,” said Kathy Moore, interim executive director of the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence. “Victims shouldn’t have to choose between safety and housing, which is why our coalition co-sponsored SB 612. Expanding the list of allowable documentation of abuse will mean more victims and families will be able to flee violence without incurring excessive financial costs.”

"Western Center applauds Governor Brown for signing SB 612, providing critical tenant protections to survivors of domestic violence and human trafficking,” said Western Center on Law and Poverty advocate Michael Moynagh. “No survivor of abuse should be stuck in a lease that could put them in further harm.”

"The National Housing Law Project applauds the California Legislature and Governor Brown for increasing housing protections and security for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, elder and dependent abuse, and human trafficking,” said Karlo Ng, National Housing Law Project Staff Attorney. “The ability for survivors to provide documentation from a qualified third party, such as a domestic violence counselor or medical professional, is critical for survivors who need to escape the abuse immediately and cannot contact the police or obtain a protective order for fear of continuing violence against them.”

The bill will officially become state law on January 1, 2014.

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