Housing Discrimination Against Victims of Abuse, Sexual Assault or Stalking
Are you a victim or survivor of abuse, sexual assault or stalking? It is unlawful for landlords or other housing providers to refuse to rent to you or to make negative decisions about your housing just because you were a victim of abuse, sexual assault or stalking.
“You damaged your apartment, so I’m giving you a bad reference.” Was it you who damaged the apartment or was it the abuser? If your abuser did the damage, tell your landlord this. Your landlord can’t give you a bad reference because of the abuser’s acts.
“I’m evicting you because the police come too often.” It is everyone’s right to call the police when they aren’t safe. Did the police come because of the abuser’s actions? It’s unlawful for your landlord to evict you because of the abuser’s actions made you call the police for help.
Victims of violence have housing rights
Research on victims of domestic violence shows:
- Domestic violence is a leading cause of homelessness for women and children.
- Domestic violence victims are discriminated against when they seek housing.
- Some landlords still wrongly believe that domestic violence is the victim’s fault.
- Some landlords wrongly evict victims for damage, disturbing neighbors, calling 911, and even because they were assaulted.
Are you a victim or survivor of abuse, sexual assault or stalking?
Did your landlord evict you or charge you for damage your abuser did?
Did a landlord refuse to rent to you because you are a victim or survivor?
Did a landlord treat you unfairly because you are a victim or survivor?
You have rights!
How we can help
Donna's boyfriend assaulted her, and she called the police. Her landlord began an eviction, and she was told she would have to move from her Section 8 housing. Donna called Vermont Legal Aid.
We represented Donna. The court granted her a final Relief from Abuse order that made Donna’s ex move out and stay away. We also got her Section 8 back and her landlord agreed not to evict her.
Donna didn’t feel at home where her ex had abused her. She began looking for a new place. A landlord asked her why she was moving. Donna explained, and the landlord refused to rent to her, because he thought her ex would come and assault her. She finally found a public housing apartment. Two months later, her ex found her, broke in, and attacked her. Donna called the police, and the police arrested her assaulter.
Donna was afraid. She asked the housing authority to let her change buildings. They refused. They also charged her for the damage her ex had done and began to evict her.
We represented Donna again. Donna kept her subsidized housing; she wasn’t charged for the damage her ex had done. The housing authority agreed to add more outside lights and to give Donna a better door and lock. Donna felt safer and decided not to move.
(Donna is not the real name of the client we represented.)
What to do
If you think you were discriminated against in housing, you have choices for what to do. See our Housing Discrimination: What To Do page.
Discrimination because someone is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking seriously harms the people who are discriminated against and made to feel unwelcome. This discrimination affects everyone. It keeps us from living in diverse, inclusive communities.
More tools for victims who rent their homes
Do you rent your home? Are you a victim of abuse, sexual assault or stalking? You have special protections other renters don’t have. You can move out early, change your locks and add security. Your landlord also can’t tell other people about your situation. Learn more about your rights.