New Louisiana law allows sexual assault victims to break residential leases, landlords to evict abusers

(Source: WAFB)
Published: Jun. 3, 2021 at 5:52 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - A law signed by Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards allows victims of sexual assault to escape a potentially dangerous situation and move from their residence by requesting early termination of their lease.

The law, which went into effect this week when Gov. Edwards signed it, allows victims to terminate their lease by:

  1. Asserting in writing to the lessor that the lessee is a victim of sexual assault and requests an early termination
  2. Provide reasonable documentation of a sexual assault within the prior six months
  3. Assert in writing that the lessee shall not and voluntarily permit the sexual offender further access to, visitation on, or occupancy of the lessee’s residential dwelling unit
  4. Fulfill all requirements of a lessee under the lease agreement

The law requires the lessor to “terminate the lease agreement on a mutually agreed-upon date within 30 days of written request for early termination, and provides that the lessee is liable for rent through the early termination date of the lease and outstanding obligations to the lessor.”

The resident must also provide a certification of sexual assault form to be completed by the lessee and a qualified party.

According to STAR (Sexual Trauma Awareness and Response), the certification can come from an attorney or from an advocacy group like STAR, meaning a survivor can avoid going through the criminal justice system or having to file a police report.

Gov. Edwards said he is “proud to have signed HB 375 by Rep. Freeman into law, making it Act 1 of the 2021 Legislative Session. This bill is a great step forward in helping sexual assault survivors gain independence and protection under the law, and I applaud Rep. Freeman for bringing this legislation forward.”

Rachael Hebert, the President and CEO of STAR said this law helps survivors remove themselves from a potentially dangerous situation and into a place that feels comfortable.

“Remaining in place where you were sexually assaulted is just going to continue to retrigger a survivor as well as make them continue to feel unsafe,” Hebert said. “It also could allow more access if the perpetrator knows where they live or potentially has access to where they live.”

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