Governor Jim Doyle finally signed a law last week which will allow victims of domestic abuse to terminate rental agreements without incurring penalty charges. The Safe Housing Act will allow victims of abuse to break their leases in cases of violence in the home. To protect landlords the person wanting to break the lease does have to provide some kind of proof, for example an order of protection (restraining order), or police rapport.
Women who are obligated by a lease may feel trapped in to staying with an abuser because of the economic repercussions of moving away from the home.
This is actually a big step for the protection of women from violence. We see similar situations at the womens shelter in Norway. The vast majority of women who come to the shelter have become financially dependent on their abuser. This is not always a clear choice, many abusers sabotage their victims attempts at employment – so I don’t even want to hear any criticism about these girls just getting a job!! That is normally one of the first things that happens when they get out of the relationship, regardless of ethnic background and religion.
However housing issues are in reality one of the things we use most time on in the shelter. Getting the women safely and financially out of the existing home, as well as assisting her in finding low cost housing at an acceptable level for her children. It’s a tough game and something countries around the world really need to work on.
So a big Way-to-Go for Wisconsin. The states of Colorado, Delaware, North Carolina, Washington, Texas, Oregon, and Illinois have similar laws allowing victims of domestic violence to terminate leases early. Now lets get the other states in gear, huh!