Housing Protections for Survivors of Violence
If you, or a child who lives with you, was a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking, the law gives you the right to:
- End your lease early without paying a lease break fee;
- Ask your landlord to take your abuser off your rental agreement; and
- Change your locks.
The law makes it illegal for a landlord to:
- Evict you or refuse to rent to you because of the abuse;
- Treat you differently because of the abuse; or
- Make you pay for damages the abuser caused during the abuse.
You can break your lease in two situations:
- You or a child who lives with you was abused within the last 90 days (don't count the time when your abuser was in jail or lived more than 100 miles away); or
- You have a restraining order protecting yourself or a child who live with you.
Give your landlord a letter that says you're ending your lease early because of domestic violence. You can use this sample letter.
You must also send your landlord proof that you (or a child who lives with you) was a victim of violence. You can use any of these documents as proof:
A restraining order signed by a judge;
A police report that lists you or a child that lives with you as a victim of the abuse;
A conviction record related to the abuse; or
A signed statement from a police officer, lawyer, licensed health care professional, or victim’s advocate. You can use this sample form.
Important! Your landlord cannot make you pay extra fees for breaking your lease early because of abuse.
- If you personally hand your move-out letter to your landlord: you can end your lease 14 days after the date you give the letter to your landlord.
- If you mail the letter to your landlord: you can end your lease 17 days after the date you mail it.
Yes. Your close family members can also move out with you. This includes your:
- Adult relatives by blood, adoption, marriage or domestic partnership;
- Child’s other parent; and
- Grandchildren or foster children.
Your move-out letter should list all the names of people moving out with you.
If you give your landlord correct notice and proof, you only have to pay rent until the move-out date in your notice.
After that date, your landlord cannot make you pay:
- More rent,
- A fee for breaking your rental agreement, or
- For any damages that happened after you moved out.
You must wait until everyone who lives in your rental moves out to get your security deposit back. Your landlord has 31 days after everyone moves out to return the deposit. For more information on getting your security deposit back, click here.
If you need help paying for a security deposit at a new rental, you may be able to get help through a program called Temporary Assistance for Domestic Violence Survivors (TA-DVS). Visit the Oregon Department of Human Services website for information on how to apply.
No. If the property damage was related to your abuse, and you gave your landlord proof of the abuse, you do not have to pay for those damages.
It’s a good idea to take photos and make notes about any damages before you leave. Ask a friend to do this with you so you have a witness.
If you live with the person who is abusing you, you may be able to make them move out instead. There are two ways to do this:
- Get a restraining order from a court that tells the abuser to move out; or
- Ask your landlord to end your abuser’s rental agreement.
Get a restraining order. Two of Oregon's five restraining orders can make someone move out of your home. Click the links below to learn more about these restraining orders, including how to get one:
Ask your landlord to make your abuser move out. Your landlord can give your abuser a notice to move out if they committed serious domestic violence, stalking, or sexual assault against you. But your landlord does not have to make your abuser move out. It is up to the landlord to decide if they will evict the abuser.
Yes. To ask your landlord to change your locks, you can use this sample letter. If your landlord takes too long or will not change the locks, do it yourself. But you give your landlord a copy of the new key. You do not have to give your landlord proof of your abuse to change your locks.
Also, keep in mind:
You must pay for the cost of changing your locks; and
If your abuser lived with you, you can't change the locks until they are off you're lease. (See the last question for information on how to get your abuser off your lease.)
No. You cannot be asked to move out just because you were an abuse victim. But your landlord can ask you to move out for other legal reasons. For example:
Not paying rent;
Moving the person who was abusing you into your rental without permission;
Not following other rules in your rental agreement; or
Allowing the person who is abusing you to keep coming back to your rental property after they've been violent or aggressive to you or others at the property.
You have several options:
- If your landlord tries to evict you, you may be able to fight the eviction in court.
- You may also be able to sue your landlord for money.
Talk to a lawyer to get help with these options. You can use our Referral Database to find free- and low-cost help in Oregon.
If you get housing assistance and you experience domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking, there are special legal protections that apply to you. Talk to your housing caseworker about your situation if you need to make changes to your housing.
If you still have problems after talking to your caseworker, talk to a lawyer. You can find free- and low-cost lawyers using our Referral Database.
Housing assistance includes:
- Section 8 vouchers for private homes;
- Affordable housing or subsidized housing properties; and
- Supportive housing for people with disabilities or for the elderly.
The public housing agency, property manager, or landlord must let you apply for your own housing benefits or give you a reasonable amount of time to move.
Do you want to find a lawyer?
Search for lawyers and organizations that provide free and low-cost legal help.