Notice to HCV Owners/Landlords Regarding the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)
The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) protects tenants and family members of tenants who are victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking from being evicted or terminated from housing assistance based on acts of such violence against them. These provisions apply both to public housing agencies administering housing and Housing Choice Voucher (Section 8) programs and to owners renting to families under Housing Choice Voucher (Section 8) rental assistance programs.
Protections for Victims
- You cannot refuse to rent to an applicant solely because he or she is a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking.
- You cannot evict a tenant who is the victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking based on acts or threats of violence committed against the victim. Also, criminal acts directly related to the domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking that are caused by a household member or guest cannot be cause for evicting the victim of the abuse.
Notification and Other Considerations
Owners/ Landlords (O/L) must notify the applicant or tenant if the O/L finds that the denial, termination, or eviction is not on the basis or as a “direct result” of being a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking, and the applicant or tenant is thus denied admission to, denied assistance under, terminate from participation in, or evicted from the housing. (See 24 CFR 5.2005(b)(1).) An applicant or tenant that disagrees with the finding should use the O/L appeal procedures (if applicable). You may also provide the “Notice of Occupancy Rights Under the Violence Against Women Act, form HUD-5380 with your denial or eviction letter. This form is now available on HUDCLIPS: https://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/administration/hudclips/forms/hud5a
Certification of Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, Sexual Assault, or Stalking
If a tenant asserts VAWA’s protections, you can ask the tenant to certify that he or she is a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking. You are not required to demand official documentation and may rely upon the victim’s statement alone. If you choose to request certification, you must do so in writing and give the tenant at least 14 business days to provide documentation. You are free to extend this deadline. A tenant can certify that he or she is a victim by providing any one of the following three documents:
- Certification of Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, Sexual Assault, or Stalking and Alternate Documentation, form HUD-5382. This form is now available on HUDCLIPS: https://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/administration/hudclips/forms/hud5a
- A statement from a victim service provider, attorney, or medical professional who has helped the victim address incidents of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking. The professional must state that he or she believes that the incidents of abuse are real. Both the victim and the professional must sign the statement under penalty of perjury.
- A police or court record, such as a protective order.
Removing the Abuser from the Household
You may bifurcate (split) the lease to evict a tenant who has committed criminal acts of violence against family members or others, while allowing the victim and other household members to stay in the unit. If you choose to remove the abuser, you may not take away the remaining tenants’ rights to the unit or otherwise punish the remaining tenants. In removing the abuser from the household, you must follow federal, state, and local eviction procedures. If the lease bifurcated the O/L must notify the Housing Authority immediately.
Any eviction due to “actual and imminent threat” should be utilized by an owner only when there are no other actions that could be taken to reduce or eliminate the threat, including, but not limited to, transferring the victim to a different unit, barring the perpetrator from the property, contacting law enforcement to increase police presence or develop other plans to keep the property safe, or seeking other legal remedies to prevent the perpetrator from acting on a threat. Restrictions predicated on public safety cannot be based on stereotypes, but must be tailored to particularized concerns about individual residents. (See 24 CFR 5.2005(d)(4).
VAWA Emergency Transfer
The VAWA Emergency Transfer provides tenant/participants receiving rental assistance through, or residing in a unit subsidized under, a covered housing program who is a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking qualifies for an emergency transfer if:
- The tenant/participant expressly requests the transfer; and
- The tenant/participant reasonably believes that there is a threat of imminent harm from further violence if the tenant remains within the same dwelling unit; or
- In the case of sexual assault, the tenant reasonably believes there is a threat of imminent harm from further violence if the tenant remains within the same dwelling unit that the tenant is currently occupying, or the sexual assault occurred on the premise during the 90-day period preceding the date of the request for transfer. (See 24 CFR § 5.2005(e)(2).
- HUD Notice PIH 2017-08 (HA) contains detailed information regarding VAWA’s certification requirements. The notice is available at: https://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/documents/huddoc?id=17-08pihn.pdf
- Final VAWA rule: https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2016-11-16/pdf/2016-25888.pdf
For help regarding an abusive relationship, you may call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or, for persons with hearing impairments, 1-800-787-3224 (TTY).
You may also contact:
Baxter Center - offers legal assistance and counseling (301) 952-3797
For tenants who are or have been victims of stalking seeking help may visit the National Center for Victims of Crime’s Stalking Resource Center.
For help regarding sexual assault, you may contact Prince George's County Hospital Center Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault Center at 301-618-3154.
Victims of stalking seeking help may contact Prince George's County Sheriff's Office Domestic Violence Unit at 301-780-8408.
Given the significant safety issues faced by victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking, it is critical that covered housing providers establish or update existing policies to maintain the confidentiality and privacy of victims who seek protections under the VAWA Final Rule.
You must keep confidential any information a tenant provides to certify that he or she is a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking. You cannot enter the information into a shared database or reveal it to outside entities unless:
- The tenant provides written permission releasing the information.
- The information is required for use in an eviction proceeding, such as to evict the abuser.
- Release of the information is otherwise required by law.
- The victim should inform you if the release of the information would put his or her safety at risk.
|1. Emergency Assistance||911|
|2. Resource Information||211|
|3. Family Crisis Center of Prince George's County||301-731-1203|
|4. Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence||800-MDHELPS
|5. Prince George's County Sheriff's Office Domestic Violence Unit||301-780-8408|
|6. Prince George's County Police Dept. Domestic Violence Unit||301-772-4433|
|7. Prince George's County Hospital Center Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault Center||301-618-3154|
|8. Still I Rise, Inc.||301-868-4903|
|9. House of Ruth (24-Hour Hotline)||410-889-RUTH
|10. Community Advocates for Family and Youth (CAFY)||301-390-4902|
|11. Prince George's County Health Dept. Domestic Violence Coordinator||301-883-7873|
|12. Department of Family Services Domestic Violence and Human Trafficking Division||301-248-0617|
|13. Courtney's House||301-870-8008|
|14. Turnaround, Inc.||410-377-8111|
|15. The Walbert||410-837-7000|