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New state law allows domestic abuse victims to break lease
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Advocates of a law in effect since July 1 said domestic abuse survivors now have greater financial protection when escaping an abusive home.

House Bill 834 became effective at the beginning of the month, which will allow those that have a family violence order from the court to terminate a residential rental or lease agreement without penalty.

Gateway Domestic Violence Center’s Cindy Bryant said the law will increase safety for these women.

“It takes away a reason not to leave, which we’re grateful for,” said Bryant, the transitional housing advocate for Gateway.

A civil family violence order is any protective order following a family violence hearing or a temporary protective order issued and “accompanied by a police report showing a basis for such order.”

A criminal family violence order is “any order of pretrial release issued as a result of an arrest for an act of family violence” or any order for probation issued after a person has been sentenced in a family violence case.

The law allows a tenant to terminate the lease “effective 30 days after providing the landlord with a written notice of termination when a civil family violence order or criminal family violence order has been issued.”

The tenant is still liable for any rent due “prorated to the effective date of the termination” and for any delinquent or unpaid rent.

“The tenant shall not be liable for any other fees, rent or damages due to the early termination of the tenancy,” the law states.

Bryant said this issue would affect women who still had a name on the lease with a potentially abusive partner.

“That is money that in many instances they have to continue paying rent, even though it’s not safe to be there or they’re not there,” Bryant said.

State Rep. Matt Dubnik, R-Gainesville, said in a news release it was a “no-brainer.”

“I wish we had more positive changes like this we could talk about every day. As legislators and as good citizens we need to do all we can to help victims of domestic abuse, and help them to help themselves,” Dubnik said in a news release.

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