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Eviction protections for domestic abuse victims signed into law in California

Since the pandemic began in 2020, contacts to the National Domestic Violence Hotline are up 6%. The hotline recently received its 6-millionth contact - 25 years after the hotline's launch.
Posted at 9:36 PM, Oct 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-11 00:36:39-04

California is expanding rental protections for survivors of domestic violence.

New protections for victims of rape, domestic violence, human trafficking and stalking have been signed into law in California.

The new rules make it harder to evict renters who suffer abuse but make it easier for them to quickly get out of a lease.

“I think it creates a sense of protection, safety and peace for survivors who are already experiencing trauma and crisis,” said Karla Huizar, community education coordinator for the Santa Barbara Rape Crisis Center.

Senate Bill 1017 was signed into law by the governor on September 27th.

Under the new rules, landlords are prohibited from evicting victims of domestic violence. The exception is if they bring the abuser onto the property and it puts others in danger.

Another aspect of the law is allowing courts to evict an abuser without kicking out other tenants.

Documenting abuse is also becoming easier. Victims can now include testimony from violent crime advocates which can be used to quickly get out of a lease agreement.

Landlords who violate the law could pay between $100 and $5,000 in damages.

“Having a stable home is very important otherwise, it tends to add to the already existing crisis,” said Huizar. “In order to deal with the trauma, the survivors need to be in a stable place.”

The law is meant to provide housing stability for victims so that they can recover faster.

“Housing is a core, essential element,” said Lisa Fraser, executive director of the Center for Family Strengthening. “If we don’t have that housing in place, everyone is stressed, everyone struggles. Children need to be in school and how can they successfully go to school if they’re feeling stressed about where they’re going to live?”

The new rules come as the Santa Barbara Rape Crisis Center says that documented cases of abuse are spiking on the Central Coast.

“We are seeing sexual assault reports that are steadily increasing again,” said Huizar. “That doesn’t necessarily mean that sexual assault was not happening-- it just means that it was happening in homes, and it was staying in homes.”

The Southern California Rental Housing Association is opposed to the bill and is raising concerns that abusers can create problems for months before the case comes before a judge.