Legal Information: District of Columbia

Housing Laws

July 13, 2021

I am afraid to stay in my apartment. How can I get out of my lease if I am a domestic violence victim?

If you are the tenant and you are a victim (or the parent/guardian of a victim) of domestic violence, there are two steps to getting out of your lease:

Step #1: You must have either: a protective order from the court1 or documentation (paperwork) from one of the following people saying you reported the domestic violence to them: a law enforcement officer, a domestic violence counselor, a health professional, the D.C. Housing Authority Office, or a D.C. Public Safety Officer.2

Step #2: You must give your landlord written notice that you are terminating your lease based on the domestic violence, along with a copy of the protective order or documentation described in step #1 - this must be given to the landlord within 90 days of when you reported the domestic violence incident.3

You may also want to check out our Safety Tips page for more information and ideas on how to keep yourself and your family safe.

1 D.C. Code § 42-3505.07(c)
2 D.C. Code § 42-3505.07(b)
3 D.C. Code § 42-3505.07(d) & (e)

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