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PRESS RELEASE- Downing Votes to Protect Housing Rights of Victims
July 16, 2008

Boston - The Massachusetts Senate on Tuesday voted to give tenants and occupants who have been victims of stalking, rape, domestic violence and sexual assault more rights and protections in leasing agreements.


“No one should feel threatened or vulnerable in their own home,” said State Senator Benjamin B. Downing (D – Pittsfield).  “This legislation is a great step towards assuring necessary protections for victims of abuse and violence, allowing them to remove themselves from an unsafe household without fear of excessive financial retribution or housing discrimination.”


The legislation will allow tenants of rented housing the option of prematurely terminating their rental contracts if they notify the owner in writing that they, or a member of their household, is a victim of domestic violence, rape, sexual assault or stalking.


The bill also mandates that landlords change exterior locks upon request of their victimized or vulnerable tenants.


Furthermore, this legislation will prohibit landlords from having any bias in offering housing to applicants who are victims.


The bill will now go to the House of Representatives for further action.





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