Pittsburgh councilmembers introduce legislation to protect domestic violence survivors

Two members of Pittsburgh City Council have introduced legislation that will strengthen rights and housing protections for domestic violence survivors.

According to a news release, the legislation includes a requirement that landlords allow rental agreements to be terminated if a tenant gives certified evidence that they were the victim of domestic violence within a 90-day timeframe and leaves the residence.

Under the legislation, landlords would be required to change locks within five days after a request from a tenant who is a victim of domestic violence.

A landlord would be able to request reimbursement for the costs of changing the locks from the tenant.

If passed, the law would also prohibit resident perpetrators from entering the unit unless a court orders they be allowed to return.

“Domestic violence is a serious crime that tears at the fabric of our communities. Tenants who are victims of domestic violence have the right to live in their homes without fearing further harm. That’s why I’m proud to co-sponsor this legislation, which will help to create safer communities for everyone,” said councilmember Bobby Wilson. “This bill will require landlords to take steps to protect tenants and prohibit them from evicting tenants who are victims of domestic violence. This is a complex issue, but one thing is clear: no one deserves to be abused in their own home. This amendment is a step in the right direction towards ensuring that all tenants are safe and protected.”

“I was proud to work with my colleagues to establish employment protections for survivors of domestic violence in 2021, and I am eager to bolster our City’s support for survivors by providing stronger housing security with this legislation,” councilmember Erika Strassburger added. “Granting survivors with the rights to have their locks changed, keep assailants out of their unit, and exit a rental agreement when they find themselves in danger has the potential to prevent serious injury or death. If establishing these safeguards can protect even one individual from suffering further abuse or assault, we should do it.”

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