AMHERST – Victims of domestic violence may have an easier time getting out of their leases in order to escape the abuse they face at home. The province recently made amendments to the Residential Tenants Act to allow victims of domestic violence break their leases without any further financial burden.
“Victims of domestic violence are already suffering enough without having to worry about the financial implications of getting out of an abusive relationship,” said John MacDonell, minister of Municipal Relations in a recent press release. “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.”
Currently, tenants who break their lease due to domestic violence are still liable for their rent if they attempt to vacate the residence before the end of their sign contract. With the new changes to the act, victims who are looking to break their leases are able to work with the Department of Justice’s Victim Services in order to get out of their living situation with only one month’s notice.
Terry Cove, the executive director of the Transition House in Amherst, said financial insecurity is one of the main reasons women have a hard time leaving an abusive relationship.
“There are probably some (women) in our area that do (sign leases) but women were staying in relationships because they couldn’t get out of their lease,” she said. “This will allow women who are living in fear, living in danger, to relocate when in the past they couldn’t.”
The recent changes made to the Residential Tenants Acts are just a few changes that will be put in place by the government to help protect people who are victims of domestic violence. Currently, the government is working to update family law legislation to require the courts to take into account the effects of family violence when deciding cases that include children. They are also looking at making updates to the Police Act to ensure police are recommending local victims services to those experiencing domestic violence and other crimes.