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Victims of Domestic Violence Given More Tenant Rights

October 13, 2010

LANSING, Mich. - Michigan landlords must now allow renters the option of breaking their lease agreements if they are entangled in domestic violence situations. The newly-signed law is intended to protect adults and children who face imminent danger of stalking, domestic violence, and sexual assault.

The legislation (SB 185) passed nearly unanimously and without much fanfare. But Renee Beeker, president of Michigan's National Organization for Women chapter, says it's an important law for victims of domestic violence who must relocate when they are in danger.

"Having the impossibility of getting out, not having enough money to find another place to live and essentially, paying for two apartments or two lease bills could be financially devastating."

The bill also includes some protections for landlords, she adds.

"The only thing that is a downside is, of course, they wouldn't necessarily get deposits back and things like that – and again, that's to protect the landlords."

Beeker points out that the bill requires victims of domestic violence to have legal documentation in order to be released from a lease agreement. Gov. Granholm signed the new law last week, at the beginning of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Amy Miller/Lori Abbott, Public News Service - MI