Domestic violence victims seek help, find eviction instead

August 25, 2016

Many victims of domestic violence stay silent and choose not to seek help from the police or domestic violence shelters for a surprising reason. Ashlee Rousey’s story exemplifies what she and others face when they contact authorities.

In 2008, Ms. Rousey called the police when her abusive ex-boyfriend showed up at her apartment. Her phone call led to her eviction by her landlord just five days later. According to court documents, when she explained what happened to the property management company, she was told she would have to leave due to nuisance laws, which held her responsible for the disturbance, even though she was the victim.

The National Network to End Domestic Violence reports that victims of domestic abuse face increasing rates of homelessness with between 22 and 57 percent of homeless women claiming that domestic violence resulted in homelessness. Nuisance ordinances introduced during the prohibition era cracked down on speakeasies that have evolved in the decades since, giving landlords grounds for evicting tenants in domestic disturbances that require police intervention.

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) introduced the Fair Housing for Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Survivors Act, which aims to provide exemptions for these victims of abuse, making them a protected class. Landlords currently can include lease or rental contract stipulations in which criminal activity of any kind on the property is grounds for dismissal. Unfortunately for people like Ashlee Rousey, this provides a loophole, allowing their entire households to be kicked out of their homes if the police are called.

To this day, Rousey claims that she struggles to find adequate housing as this incident from 2008 remains on her record, following her every time she seeks a new home. As a victim of domestic abuse seeking new housing, potential landlords can reject her lease application without knowing any context. For this reason, an alarming number of domestic violence victims will not seek police intervention for fear of what the future may hold for them if they do.

If you have been a victim of domestic violence or believe that your housing rights have been violated, you might need legal representation. Larry Bellomo is renowned as a leading Orange County attorney, having practiced extensively in divorce, domestic violence and housing issues. Give our firm a call for your free, no obligation consultation.