Assembly Dem Bill to Protect Victims of Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault & Stalking from Eviction Clears Assembly Panel

Sponsored by Vainieri Huttle, Lagana, Mosquera, Wimberly, Jimenez, Pintor Marin & Mukherji

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Joseph Lagana, Gabriela Mosquera, Benjie Wimberly, Angelica Jimenez, Eliana Pintor Marin and Raj Mukherji to provide rental and lease protections for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking was approved Thursday by an Assembly panel.

“Life is already hard for domestic violence and sexual assault survivors. They should not have to fear eviction because of circumstances they did not create,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). “This can help reassure victims that they will not be further punished for consequences brought on by their abusers.”

Under current law, a tenant may terminate a lease prior to its expiration if he or she provides appropriate documentation and written notice that the tenant or a child of the tenant faces an imminent threat of serious physical harm from another person if the tenant remains on the premises.

Under the bill (A-1706), a landlord may not terminate a tenancy, fail to renew a tenancy, or refuse to enter into a rental agreement based on the tenant’s or applicant’s or a household member’s status as a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking, or based on the tenant or applicant having terminated a rental agreement pursuant to the “New Jersey Safe Housing Act.”

"We should not allow abuse victims to be subjected to further hardship through eviction as a result of their abuse," said Lagana (D-Bergen/Passaic). "This bill will help provide greater protections for an already vulnerable population against landlords who want them out."

“In an ideal world, the abuser would be removed. Sadly, life is not always fair,” said Mosquera (D-Camden/Gloucester). “Forcing an eviction can make a bad situation worse, and possibly expose victims to greater danger. This can help reassure these victims that the law is on their side.”

“Discriminating against a tenant because they are a victim of abuse is terribly unfair, and sends the wrong message,” said Wimberly (D-Bergen/Passaic). “Victims need to know that we stand with them. Enhancing these protections lets victims know we are on their side.”

“Terminating a lease over a domestic violence situation can possibly make matters worse for these victims, as their abusers may blame them and lash out,” said Jimenez (D-Bergen/Hudson). “Victims who are unable to escape their abusers need our protection. This is one way to provide it.”

“This is housing discrimination, pure and simple,” said Pinto Marin (D-Essex). “We must protect families and their rental rights, especially those who are victims of abuse.”

“A woman and her children should never be put out on the street because the landlord believes a loud argument or physical violence is a nuisance,” said Mukherji (D-Hudson). “Punishing victims of domestic violence for the actions of their abusers is not just wrong but cruel.”

The bill was released by the Assembly Women & Children Committee.