State Reps. Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown) and Lisa Sobecki (D-Toledo) today recognized October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month and announced the introduction of House Bill (HB) 351, legislation allowing tenants to terminate their rental agreement if they are a victim of domestic violence or rape.
“After an arrest or protection order is issued, victims should not face hurdles that make it difficult for them to put distance between themselves and their abusers,” said Rep. Lepore-Hagan. “What they do need is an exit strategy and assurances that they will be safe. HB 351 gives them an opportunity for a fresh start at a new address away from the person who is threatening or hurting them.”
“Everyone should feel safe in their own home, but often in domestic violence incidents, that is not the case,” said Rep. Sobecki. “This bill creates the opportunity for victims of domestic violence to move out of a dangerous situation and find a safe place to live.”
HB 351 will enable victims to terminate their lease agreement harm-free by presenting a certified copy of a qualifying court order to their landlord within 30 days of issuance. Landlords will be entitled to withhold a portion of any security deposit for damage that may have been done to the property before the tenant vacates. If the victim is co-leasing the property, the other party to the lease will remain responsible for paying any rent that is due.
“Victims of domestic violence must be able to leave dangerous situations as quickly as possible,” added Rep. Lepore-Hagan. “This law will save lives by giving survivors the freedom to move the moment the need arises.”
The bill also stipulates that the definition of “nuisance” shall not include emergency service calls relating to domestic violence incidents.
The legislation currently awaits hearings before the Ohio House Civil Justice Committee.