Assembly Democratic Bill to Bolster Rental and Lease Protections for Domestic Violence Victims Clears Committee

Bill Sponsored by Assembly Democrats Vainieri Huttle, Lagana, Mosquera, Wimberly, Jimenez and Pintor Marin 

(TRENTON) - An Assembly panel on Monday released legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Joseph Lagana, Gabriela Mosquera, Wimberly, Jimenez and Pintor Marin to provide rental and lease protections for domestic violence victims. 

The bill (A-916) is designed to enhance the protections offered under the "New Jersey Safe Housing Act" by prohibiting a landlord from terminating a tenancy, failing to renew a tenancy, or refusing to enter into a rental agreement due to a tenant's or prospective tenant's status as a domestic violence victim.

"Victims of domestic violence must deal with their life being thrown into upheaval," said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). "The last thing they need is to have their home uprooted through no fault of their own."

"This bill will provide far greater protections for domestic violence victims in New Jersey," said Lagana (D-Essex). "This measure, in particular, will hopefully provide much-needed stability for domestic violence victims in order to help them overcome the otherwise tumultuous circumstances in their life."

"Finding adequate housing in a timely manner is often crucial in helping domestic violence victims escape their tormentors," said Mosquera (D-Camden/Gloucester). "We need to ensure that the law is on their side in these circumstances."

Under the act, a tenant may terminate a lease prior to its expiration if they provide appropriate documentation and written notice that they or their child face an imminent threat of serious physical harm from another person if they remain on the premises.

"Discriminating against a resident because they are a victim of domestic violence is disturbing and cannot be tolerated," said Wimberly (D-Bergen, Passaic). "Their homes should be protected and not taken away because of a situation that is no fault of their own."

"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 domestic violence."

The bill would amend the act to prohibit a landlord from terminating a tenancy, failing to renew a tenancy, or refusing to enter into a rental agreement based on the tenant's, applicant's or 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 Act.  

The measure was approved by the Assembly Women and Children Committee.