FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 10, 2023
Councilperson Strassburger Introduces New Housing Protections for Survivors of Domestic Violence
PITTSBURGH, PA (October 10, 2023) - In today’s regular meeting of the Pittsburgh City Council, Councilperson Erika Strassburger and Councilman Bobby Wilson introduced legislation that will strengthen the legal rights and housing protections for survivors of domestic violence. Highlights of the legislation include:
A requirement that landlords permit the termination of rental agreements—without penalty—if a tenant produces certified evidence that they were the victim of an incident of domestic violence within the last 90 days, and the tenant vacates the premises.
A requirement that landlords must, within five days, change the locks to a unit upon the written request of a tenant who is a victim of domestic violence (subject to a protective order if the perpetrator is also a resident of the unit); a landlord may request reimbursement for the costs of changing the locks that is to be paid within 45 days after such cost is presented to the tenant.
A prohibition on resident-perpetrators receiving access to the unit in question unless a court orders that such person be allowed to return to the unit for some purpose.
Important definitions for "inciting incident," "family or household members," "responsible party," and "landlord"
"Domestic violence is a serious crime that tears at the fabric of our communities. Tenants who are victims of domestic violence have the right to live in their homes without fearing further harm. That's why I'm proud to co-sponsor this legislation, which will help to create safer communities for everyone,” said Councilman Wilson. “This bill will require landlords to take steps to protect tenants and prohibit them from evicting tenants who are victims of domestic violence. This is a complex issue, but one thing is clear: no one deserves to be abused in their own home. This amendment is a step in the right direction towards ensuring that all tenants are safe and protected."
“I was proud to work with my colleagues to establish employment protections for survivors of domestic violence in 2021, and I am eager to bolster our City’s support for survivors by providing stronger housing security with this legislation,” Councilperson Strassburger added. “Granting survivors with the rights to have their locks changed, keep assailants out of their unit, and exit a rental agreement when they find themselves in danger has the potential to prevent serious injury or death. If establishing these safeguards can protect even one individual from suffering further abuse or assault, we should do it.”
Please contact the District 1 (firstname.lastname@example.org) or District 8 (email@example.com) Offices with any questions about these amendments. Additionally, Megan Confer-Hammond, of the Fair Housing Partnership of Greater Pittsburgh, and Kevin Quisenberry, of the Community Justice Project, are also eager to provide the background and rationale behind the changes. Megan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, and Kevin can be reached at email@example.com.