Province providing additional help to victims of domestic abuse

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HALIFAX - Nova Scotia tenants who are experiencing domestic violence can safely move forward with their lives without further financial burden, thanks to amendments to the Residential Tenancies Act.  

Changes to the act announced Monday by Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations Minister John MacDonell, will allow tenants who are victims of domestic violence to get out of their leases early.  

"Victims of domestic violence are already suffering enough without having to worry about the financial implications of getting out of an abusive relationship," said Mr. MacDonell. "They shouldn't feel trapped in a lease or be held financially liable for a home they were forced to leave to escape a violent situation.  

"The government understands these obstacles and the province is working hard to eliminate them. These legislative changes will help victims of domestic violence move on with their lives without financial penalty from an existing lease."  

Presently, tenants who are experiencing domestic abuse are still liable for their rent if they leave the residence before the lease expires. Changes to the Residential Tenancies Act set out a process that allow victims to work with the Department of Justice's Victim Services to get out of their lease with one month's notice.  

"Domestic violence affects individuals at every income level. But often, those with lower incomes find it hard to find another place to live," said Stephanie MacInnis-Langley, executive director, Status of Women. "This is a positive step in helping victims move forward without past financial obligations affecting their future."  

The changes are part of a larger attempt by government to protect people who are living with domestic violence. Other efforts include updates to family law legislation that will require courts to consider the effects of family violence when assessing the best interests of children, and amendments to the Police Act, which will ensure police officers refer victims of domestic violence and other crimes to local victim services.   For more information about domestic violence, visit http://nsdomesticviolence.ca.  

To find out more about tenant/landlord rights and responsibilities, visit http://novascotia.ca/rta .

Organizations: Department of Justice, Victim Services

Geographic location: Nova Scotia

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