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September 23, 2020
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End Lease with Landlord Due to Domestic Violence (NW Justice Project)

You and/or your household (your children or any adults other than the abuser who live with you) who are domestic violence, sexual assault, unlawful harassment and/or stalking survivors may end a lease with your landlord if the following are true:
1) You and/or your household members must either have:
• A valid protection order (a court order that may help protect you and your children from domestic violence).
OR
• A record of reporting the incident of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking to a “qualified third party.”
A “qualified third party” can be law enforcement officers, state court employees, doctors, nurses and other health care professionals, licensed mental health professionals or counselors, clergy, or crime victim/witness program advocates. (Reporting to a qualified third party may help you end your lease. It does not give you the same protections as a protection order.)

2) You must notify your landlord in writing that you (and/or your household member) are a domestic violence, sexual assault, unlawful harassment, and/or stalking victim, and attach a copy of the protection order or the record of the report to a qualified third party. See Sample Letter #1 or #2. If you are attaching a Record of Report form, the “qualified third party” you reported to must have a copy of the form that includes your abuser’s name (Page 1 of the Record of Report Form). The copy you give the landlord (Page 2 of the Record of Report Form) does not have to name the abuser.

3) Notify your landlord you will be moving out within 90 days of the incident that led to the protection order or report. You can do this in the same letter you use in step 2.
See Sample Letter #1 or #2. This is NOT 90 days from the day you reported the incident or got the order for protection. It is 90 days from the date the incident happened.

If you meet these three conditions, you may end your lease and move out without having to pay for the rest of the time on your lease. You must still pay the rent for the month you leave (even if you leave in the middle of the month), but you will be entitled to a refund of your deposit.

This publication provides general education, not legal advice. The law is complicated. You may need extra help even after reading this publication. If you are low-income and live in Washington State outside of King County, you can get legal advice by calling CLEAR at 1-888-201-1014, between the hours of 9:15 AM and 12:15 PM, Monday through Friday. If you live outside King County, call 211 for referral to a legal services provider Monday through Friday from 8:00 am – 6:00 pm. Or call (206) 461-3200, or the toll-free number, 1-877-211-WASH (9274).

SAMPLE LETTER #1

Sample letter to notify landlord that you are a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, and/or stalking, have a valid order of protection and wish to end your lease and move out.

Give one copy to your landlord with a copy of the order for protection and keep one copy for yourself.

Your Name
Address
Date

Landlord’s Name
Address and Unit #

Dear (Landlord’s Name):

I (and/or my household member) was a victim of an act that constitutes a crime of domestic violence, sexual assault, and/or stalking. On _______________, 20 , I obtained a protection order against (name of abusive person). If you see this person around my home, please contact the nearest law enforcement agency. Attached is a copy of the Order.

This letter is to notify you that I am vacating my unit on ______________, 20__ in accordance with the Residential Landlord Tenant Act. Please return the refund due on my deposit to the following address: [include an address where you will be able to safely receive mail].

Sincerely,

Your name

SAMPLE LETTER #2

Sample letter to notify landlord that you are a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, and/or stalking, have a record of your report of the incident signed by a qualified third party, and wish to terminate the rental agreement and move out.

Give one copy to your landlord with a copy of the order for protection and keep one copy for yourself.

Your Name
Address
Date

Landlord’s Name
Address and Unit #

Dear (Landlord’s Name):

I (and/or my household member) was a victim of an act that constitutes a crime of domestic violence, sexual assault, and/or stalking.

On (date)__, 20 , I reported that incident to a qualified third party pursuant to the Residential Landlord Tenant Act. I have attached a copy of a record of my signed report to a qualified third party.

This letter is to notify you that I am vacating my unit on ______________, 20__ in accordance with the Residential Landlord Tenant Act. Please return the refund due on my deposit to the following address: [include an address where you will be able to safely receive mail].

Sincerely,

Your name

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