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THE Updated:

SAFE HOMES ACT ENDING YOUR LEASE EARLY CHANGING YOUR LOCKS

What is The Safe Homes Act?


It is a law that gives you or anyone in your If you or anyone in your household is a You can request an emergency lock
household who is a victim of domestic or victim of domestic or sexual violence, you change if there is a credible imminent threat
sexual violence (including dating violence, can end the lease early, even when the of domestic or sexual violence on the
stalking, child abuse, and elder abuse) the abuser is a member of the household, if: premises, as long as:
right to: ! There is a credible imminent threat of
harm on the premises. ! You have a WRITTEN lease and the
! End your lease (written or oral) early
! You give the landlord written notice of abuser is NOT on the lease. You must
and leave the home. Tenants who
the credible imminent threat 3 days give your landlord a written request from
properly use the law will not be
before or after you leave the home. all tenants on the lease and include
responsible for rent due after they leave
evidence, such as police reports,
the home.
Bring another adult with you when you drop medical records, court records, or a
! Change the locks to keep the abuser out
off the notice, or send it by certified mail. statement from a victim services
of the home in an emergency. You can
Keep a copy of the notice for yourself. If organization.
do this if you have a written lease and
the abuser is not on the lease, OR if you you end your lease early, you must remove
OR
are an ORAL or WRITTEN leaseholder all your belongings and turn over your keys
with a court order granting you exclusive to your landlord or property manager. This ! You share an ORAL or WRITTEN lease
possession of the premises. shows that you have given up the with the abuser and you have a Plenary
apartment. Order of Protection or Civil No Contact
Is my home covered by this law? order granting you exclusive possession
You can use the Act if you live in: Extra Protections for Sexual Violence of the property. You must give your
! Private rental housing, no matter the You may end your lease early WITHOUT landlord written notice from all tenants
size. showing a credible imminent threat, if an except the abuser and include a copy of
! Subsidized housing, including housing act of sexual violence occurred on the the court order with the notice.
choice “Section 8” vouchers. premises against you or anyone in your
! Public housing is NOT covered. household. To end the lease you must: Your landlord must change the locks or give
! Give the landlord written notice 3 days you permission to change them within 48
NEED HELP? before or after you leave home and hours of the written request. If your landlord
In Chicago— within 60 days of the sexual violence, or does not change them within 48 hours, you
Domestic Violence Help Line: 877-TO END DV as soon as possible afterwards. may change them without the landlord’s
Rape Crisis Hotline: 888-293-2080 ! Include evidence, such as police permission, or sue the landlord in court to
Legal Assistance Foundation: 312-341-1070 reports, medical records, court records, have the locks changed. You and your
Outside Chicago— or a statement from a victim services landlord must make a good faith effort to
Land of Lincoln Legal Help: 800-252-8629 organization. give the new keys to one another within 48
Prairie State Legal Services: 800-531-7057 hours.
VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN ACT
EXAMPLES OF: (VAWA)

Credible Imminent Threat What is VAWA?


! The abuser comes to your or a VAWA is a federal law that protects victims
household member’s job and you fear
he will come to your house next.
of domestic violence, dating violence, and
stalking who live in or with:
Housing
! A stalker stands across the street from
your or a household member’s
! Public Housing
! Project-Based Section 8 Housing
Rights
apartment. ! Private Housing with a Housing
Choice “Section 8” Voucher
For Victims of
! You are sexually assaulted on the
premises and the police have not caught Victims of sexual violence are only
protected in some situations.
Domestic &
the abuser.
! An abusive ex-boyfriend knows where
Admissions
Sexual Violence
you live.
! Your wallet and keys were stolen by the Property owners CANNOT use an
abuser and have not been found. applicant’s history as a victim of domestic
On the Premises violence, dating violence, or stalking as a
! Laundry room, back yard, parking lot, reason to refuse housing assistance if they
hallways, front and back entrances, otherwise qualify.
inside the apartment unit, etc.
Evictions
Written Notice
Incident(s) of ACTUAL or THREATENED
! “My ex-husband just got out of jail and domestic violence, dating violence, or
found out where I live. He said he would stalking, including related criminal activity,
kill me. Under the Safe Homes Act, I am do NOT give a landlord the right to evict if
leaving my apartment now” (to end the the victim is a tenant or immediate member
lease early). of the tenant’s family.
! “My date sexually assaulted me in my
apartment last night. I just can’t live here Ending the Abuser’s Lease For more information, please contact:
anymore and want to use the Safe The building owner may evict, remove, or Kate Walz, katewalz@povertylaw.org
Homes Act to leave” (to end the lease terminate the lease of a single tenant who 312.263.3830, ext. 232,
early). commits physical violence against family Wendy Pollack, wendypollack@povertylaw.org
! “My ex-boyfriend made a copy of my members or others. The building owner 312.263.3830, ext. 238, or
house key without permission. I want to also must obey any court order that gives Housing Action Illinois, 312.939.6074
change the locks using the Safe Homes victims of violence possession of the home.
Act” (to get the locks changed).
Created with generous support from the Illinois Equal Justice Foundation.