New York Domestic Violence Victims May Terminate Residential Leases

In order to permit a victim of domestic violence to relocate to a safe location unknown to his/her abuser, a new law has been enacted in New York to permit a person who has obtained an order of protection to also obtain an order permitting him/her to terminate his/her residential apartment lease. This new law would allow the victim to move to a safe location and free him/her of any future financial obligation to the landlord.

In order to terminate the lease, the victim must show that:

  • There remains a substantial risk of harm if the victim remains in the present residence;
  • The risk could be substantially reduced be the relocation;
  • The landlord refused to voluntarily consent to the lease termination; and
  • The victim is acting in good faith.

The Court may condition the termination of the lease on the payment of rent and other obligations up and until the in New York actual termination date.

This is an important measure to protect the most vulnerable victims of domestic abuse. It is not enough to simply give a victim of domestic violence an order of protection if the abuser knows where the victim lives; too often, orders of protection are violated. Victims would constantly feel the need to “look over his/her shoulder”  unless they can get a fresh start away from their abusers. 

Since the lease termination order requires a judicial approval, it is unlikely to be abused. The landlord’s inconvenience and expense of re-letting an apartment, palls in comparison to the need to provide a safe home to a battered person.

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