Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)
Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)
Your Rights as a Tenant
A federal law that went into effect in 2006, and was reauthorized and amended in 2013, provides legal protections to individuals (man or woman) who are victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking (collectively referred to as “violence” in this notice). The name of the law is the Violence against Women Act, or “VAWA.” Among other things, VAWA provides protections to victims of violence who receive publicly assisted housing benefits. The federal government is drafting an approved notice explaining your rights under VAWA, including the 2013 changes. In the meantime, this notification is a temporary explanation of those rights.
Who is Covered
VAWA protections extend to you if the victim of the violence is:
- your spouse, parent, brother, sister, or child (including a step-child or foster child); or
- any individual, tenant, or lawful occupant living in your household.
In the language of VAWA, these people are “affiliated” with you.
Protections for Victims
If you or an affiliated person are a victim of violence, you may not be denied assistance, evicted or have your assistance terminated because of the violence you or the affiliated person experienced. The Housing Authority and your landlord may not:
Deny you voucher assistance because you or an affiliated person are a victim of violence
Terminate your housing assistance or evict you because of threats or violence committed against you or an affiliated person.
You may only be evicted or terminated on the basis of violence against you or an affiliated person if there is an actual threat to other tenants or employees at the property if you remain in your unit.
If you or an affiliated person are a victim of violence, you may request that the Housing Authority or your landlord take one of the following actions:
- If a member of your household has committed criminal acts of violence against you or another household member, the landlord may split the lease and allow you to stay in the unit.
- The housing authority can terminate the abuser’s Section 8 rental assistance while allowing you to continue to receive assistance if you are eligible for Section 8 assistance.
- The housing authority may permit you to move and still keep your rental assistance, even if your current lease has not yet expired.
If you request protection under VAWA, the Housing Authority or your Landlord may request verification that you or an affiliated person are/is a victim of violence. If so, you will be required to submit one of the following:
- A completed and signed HUD-approved certification form (HUD-50066, Certification of Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, Sexual Assault or Stalking).
- A federal, state, tribal, territorial, or local law enforcement agency, court or administrative agency report or record.
- Documentation signed by a person who has assisted the victim in addressing violence. This person may be an employee, agent, or volunteer of a victim service provider; an attorney; a medical professional; or a mental health professional. The person signing the documentation must state under penalty of perjury that the person believes that the domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking meets the requirements of VAWA. The applicant or tenant must also sign the documentation; or
At the discretion of the PHA, a statement or other evidence provided by the applicant or tenant.
The housing authority and your landlord must keep confidential any information you provide about the violence against you, unless:
- You give written permission to the housing authority or your landlord to release the information.
- Your landlord needs to use the information in an eviction proceeding, such as to evict your abuser.
- A law requires the housing authority or your landlord to release the information.
If release of the information would put your safety at risk, you should inform the housing authority and your landlord.
VAWA and Other Laws
VAWA does not limit the housing authority or your landlord’s duty to honor court orders about access to or control of the property. This includes orders issued to protect a victim and orders dividing property among household members in cases where a family breaks up.
VAWA does not replace any federal, state, or local law that provides greater protection for victims of domestic violence, dating violence, or stalking.
For more information, or for a copy of the general information on Landlord/Tenant Issues For Survivors of Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and/or Stalking provided by Northwest Justice Project please contact Melanie Pilkenton at 425-290-8499 ext. 519.