Legal Information: District of Columbia

Housing Laws

August 31, 2015

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 court* 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;**

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.***

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.

* D.C. Code § 42-3505.07(c)
** D.C. Code § 42-3505.07(b)
*** D.C. Code § 42-3505.07(d) & (e)