(Feb. 15) –Rep. Dominique Jackson’s bipartisan bill to allow victims of stalking, sexual assault and domestic violence to break their leases to flee their attackers and protect their safety earned final approval from the House this morning on a 62-3 vote.
HB17-1035, also sponsored by Sen. John Cooke, R-Greeley, adds victims of sexual assault and stalking to the group of victims eligible to break their leases due to safety concerns, and also adds types of acceptable documentation to prove that they are victims of assault and stalking
status that can be used to allow survivors to break their leases.
“Survivors who have been attacked or harassed in their own homes should be able to protect themselves without facing financial ruin,” said Rep. Jackson. “Perpetrators of these crimes are often a caregiver, a person of high regard in the community, or even the landlord. I believe everyone deserves a safe and affordable place to live.”
Testimony in the initial hearing before the Judiciary Committee earlier this month included the accounts of several women who have been attacked or threatened in their own homes. They spoke of the need to break their lease for their physical safety, but the inability to do so and the lack of financial means to overcome that barrier.
A tearful Michelle Aswad told the committee her story of violent sexual assault by her ex-boyfriend in her own home. Though he knew where she lived and even had access to the apartment, she was not allowed to break her lease.
“I was held prisoner in my home, not only by my attacker, but by my lease and my landlord,” said Aswad. “My life is worth more than someone’s fear of potential loss to their bottom line.”
The vote sends the bill to the Senate.