VAINIERI HUTTLE, TUCKER, CAPUTO BILL TO PROTECT DOMESTIC VIOLENCE VICTIMS APPROVED BY ASSEMBLY

The General Assembly on Monday approved a measure sponsored by Assembly members Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Cleopatra Tucker and Ralph Caputo to protect domestic violence victims from being wrongfully evicted or denied housing.

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

The bill (A-2891), approved by a vote of 75-1, is intended 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 or prospective tenant’s status as a domestic violence victim.

“With this bill, domestic violence victims will receive added protections under the New Jersey Safe Housing Act,” said Tucker (Essex). “Hopefully this measure will provide some stability for victims in order to help them overcome the otherwise tumultuous circumstances in their life.”

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

This 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.

“This is about creating a measure of fairness for victims of domestic violence,” said Caputo (D-Essex). “No one should be evicted or denied housing because they are a victim of someone else’s heinous behavior.”

The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration.