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Stalking, sexual assault victims may be able to break rental agreements under House bill

by Marianne Goodland

from The Colorado Independent

…Women’s groups, advocates for the homeless and those who support victims of sexual assault or stalking are cheering a near-unanimous vote today on a bipartisan bill that would allow such victims to break apartment leases when they believe their lives are in danger.

The measure, sponsored by Democratic Rep. Dominique Jackson of Aurora, passed the House this morning on a 61 to 3 vote. It now goes to the Senate, where it will be sponsored by Republican Sen. John Cooke of Greeley, a former sheriff.

Current law allows victims of domestic violence to break a rental agreement, but only if that person files a police report. That same protection does not extend to victims of sexual assault or of stalking.

The bill is important for several reasons, according to Neha Mahajan, Colorado state director of 9 to 5, a group that advocates for working women. She pointed out that for some women, filing a police report is not an option. Just the act of calling the police may cause some landlords to begin eviction proceedings, rather than wanting to protect the tenant. The bill allows those who want to break a lease the option of using other evidence, such as medical reports or statements from a medical provider.

“Colorado has some of the worst protections for renters in the country,” she told The Colorado Independent. Those rental laws makes a bad situation worse for victims of domestic violence or sexual assault. The passage of Jackson’s bill “represents an important step with providing basic protections.”

Read the full piece here