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Sexual Violence & Domestic Violence

Remedies Under the Safe Homes Act

765 ILCS 750

State law provides remedies for tenants who are victims of sexual violence or domestic violence in their homes. The Act provides that:

Tenants will not be liable for rent due after moving out of an apartment or house if the reason for moving was that a member of the tenant household was a victim of sexual violence on the premises, provided that written notice is given as required in this law.

Tenants must give the landlord written notice prior to or within 3 days of moving out that the reason for moving out was that a household member was a victim of sexual violence on the premises. The incident must have occurred not more than 60 days prior to the date of giving the written notice to the landlord. The notice must include:

-The date the sexual violence occurred

-One form of the following types of evidence: medical, court or police evidence of sexual violence, or a statement from an employee of a victim services or rape crisis organization from which the tenant or a member of the tenant’s household sought services.

If the reason for moving out before you lease ended was that a member of the tenant household was under “a credible imminent threat of domestic or sexual violence at the premises” the Safe Homes Act provides that this would be your defense if the landlord sued you for non-payment of rent. You will have to convince the judge in court that you faced a "credible, imminent threat" of violence if you remained on the premises AND you must have given written notice to the landlord prior to or within 3 days of moving out that the reason for moving was because of a credible imminent threat of domestic or sexual violence had you remained in the rental unit. You must provide evidence of the domestic violence threat: medical, court or police report or a statement from an employee of a victim services or rape crisis organization from which a member of the household sought services.

(Roommates are jointly, legally liable for the lease; therefore, one roommate cannot exercise her or his rights under this law independent of the other roommates -- except when there are only two of you and the other tenant is the perpetrator of the domestic violence. Contact the Tenant Union for advice about how to deal with roommate situations before giving notice under the provisions of this Act)

Confidentiality and disclosure: Your landlord is not allowed to disclose to your next landlord that you exercised your rights under the Safe Homes Act. Without your written permission or a legal requirement, your landlord is also not allowed to disclose to your next landlord any of the information you provided (medical, police, etc.) as evidence of the sexual or domestic violence. A landlord who discloses this information would be liable for actual damages up to $2,000.00.

Eviction of victim: Your landlord cannot evict you by reason of your having been a victim of violence on the premises.

Tenants may request that a landlord change the locks of the dwelling unit if they reasonably believe that one or more household members face a credible imminent threat of domestic or sexual violence at the premises from a person who is not a tenant under the lease.

Written notice of the request signed by all tenants who signed the lease must be sent to the landlord with at least one form of evidence: medical, court or police evidence of domestic or sexual violence or a statement from an employee of a victim services, domestic violence, or rape crisis organization from which the tenant sought services.

The landlord must change the locks within 48 hours of receiving the notice or give the tenants permission to change locks. The landlord may charge a fee for the lock change. If the landlord does not change the locks within 48 hours of receiving the notice, the tenants may change the locks but they must give the landlord a key to the new locks.

If the perpetrator of the violence is a member of the household, that person's signature is not required on the notice to the landlord requesting the lock change; however, you must provide to the landlord a copy of either a plenary civil protection order or a plenary civil no contact order granting the remaining tenants exclusive possession of the property.

This law does not apply to tenants living in public housing but it does apply to tenants renting privately-owned housing even if the tenant has a portion of rent paid by a Section 8 voucher or some other form of government assistance.

 

 

The Tenant Union does not provide legal services of any kind. All information provided in this publication is intended to help the average person prevent problems and deal with common concerns of renting. When legal help is needed, always consult with an attorney at law.