Oklahoma Senate approves measure to allow domestic violence victims to break lease

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The Oklahoma Senate says it has passed a measure that allows victims of domestic or sexual violence to terminate a lease early without penalty.

Sen. John Michael Montgomery authored Senate Bill 200, which would allow tenants to terminate their lease early without penalty by providing written notice and either a protective order or a police report within 30 days of the violent incident to his or her landlord.

“Victims of domestic violence are often trapped in their situation because they have no way to escape their home, especially if they can’t afford to terminate their lease before it is up,” Montgomery said. “This measure would allow victims to end their lease early without penalty so they can move and make a fresh start for themselves without their abuser knowing where they live.”

Under the measure, the perpetrator would be held civilly liable for any economic loss incurred by the landlord by the early termination of the lease.

The bill also prohibits any landlord from denying renewal of or terminating a lease because the applicant or tenant is a victim or alleged victim of domestic or sexual violence and stalking, as well as from denying tenancy to an applicant because they’ve previously terminated a lease due to violence.

According to the Oklahoma Domestic Violence Fatality Review Board, 115 people died in 2019 due to domestic violence.

Of these, 45 percent were killed by family members and 39 percent were killed by intimate partners. Additionally, six percent were killed by a roommate.

The measure now moves to the Oklahoma House of Representatives.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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