By Kayla Woody, House of Hope prevention specialist
There are many barriers to safety in an abusive relationship. Leaving is often the most dangerous time for a victim of domestic violence. Not only is the abuser a threat to the victim’s safety and wellbeing, but victims also struggle to find basic needs like housing and the financial stability to meet those needs. The lack of safe and affordable housing is often one of the primary barriers survivors face when they do choose to leave.
One way to ease the burden on individuals facing domestic violence in Oklahoma is through the Oklahoma Residential Landlord Tenant Act (cpn.news/landlordtenantactok) authored by Sen. John Montgomery. It states:
- A victim of domestic violence, sexual violence or stalking may terminate a lease without penalty by providing a written notice and a protective order of an incident of such violence within 30 days of the incident, unless the landlord waives such time period. 41 O.S. § 111(F)
- A landlord cannot deny, refuse to renew, or terminate a tenancy because the applicant, tenant or member of the household is a victim or alleged victim of domestic violence, sexual violence or stalking regardless of whether there is a current protective order in place. 41 O.S. § 113.3
- A landlord cannot deny a tenancy or retaliate against a tenant because the applicant or tenant has previously terminated a rental agreement, because the applicant or tenant is a victim of domestic violence, sexual violence, or stalking. 41 O.S. § 113.3
This senate bill was signed into law by Gov. Kevin Stitt on May 4, 2023, and will go into effect on Nov. 1, 2023.
Along with the difficulty of locating housing, individuals need utilities in the home. Most times when moving into a new residence, individuals are responsible for placing deposits for electricity, gas, water, trash and sewage services. They also must meet certain credit requirements. This can be difficult for someone who has experienced financial abuse or used what little funds they have saved to flee the abuser.
Another way the state has moved toward assisting victims of domestic violence is House Bill 2242 (Domestic Violence Victim Assistance Bill) authored by Sen. Adam Pugh (cpn.news/dvassistanceok). The bill:
Requires public utilities and municipally owned utility providers to waive the initial credit and deposit requirements for victims of domestic violence, sexual violence, or stalking who provide an existing protective order, documentation from a representative of a certified domestic violence shelter or program, or documentation from law enforcement personnel.
“This bill will ensure victims don’t stay in a dangerous situation simply because they have bad or no credit or lack the money for a housing deposit. No one’s life is worth that, and I’m glad this protection is now law in Oklahoma,” Pugh said.
The bill was approved by Gov. Stitt on May 2, 2023, and due to an emergency clause in the bill, the requirements took effect immediately.
If you or someone you know is experiencing stalking, intimate partner violence and/or sexual assault and would like more information, please contact the House of Hope at 405-275-3176 or visit us online at facebook.com/cpnhouseofhope.