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New York Court Says Landlord May Not Evict Tenant for Being a Domestic Violence Victim


A 30-year old female tenant was served a notice of termination by her landlord because she engaged in illegal and violent behavior during domestic disputes. The tenant is under a federal-government-assisted Section 8 tenancy. According to sources, the tenant stabbed her partner in one of numerous disturbances she created in and around the building. The tenant did not deny stabbing her partner but she said it was only in defense of herself because her partner engaged in domestic violence against her.

According to the federal Violence Against Women and Department of Justice Reauthorization Act of 2005, an incident of domestic violence or criminal activity relating to domestic violence will not be construed to violate a public-housing or government-assisted lease and will not be good cause to terminate a public-housing or government-assisted tenancy, like a Section 8 tenancy, if the tenant is the victim or threatened victim of that domestic violence. VAWA’s goal is to prevent a landlord from penalizing a tenant for being a victim of domestic violence.

During the court proceeding, the tenant related that she has been historically a domestic-violence victim. To prove her assertions, she submitted evidence of complaint reports she filed with the New York Police Department in several occasions, along with an order of protection she obtained against her partner.

The tenant related that on the night of the stabbing incident, her partner arrived at her apartment intoxicated and disheveled. She said she asked him to leave and but he forced his way into her apartment and assaulted her. She added that during the assault, her partner threw her into a bathroom cabinet, causing glass to shatter on both of them, and that her partner injured himself on the glass.

In this case, the court found that the stabbing incident is a domestic dispute and that the tenant is a victim or a threatened victim of domestic violence. The partner denied the allegations of domestic violence and said the tenant allowed him access to the apartment shortly after obtaining a protection order.

The court found that the tenant was suffering from battered woman syndrome. The tenant might have changed her mind after she obtained the protection order and allowed her partner access to the subject premises. Unrepresentative and inconsistent victim behavior toward an alleged aggressor fits into the cycle of domestic violence. Domestic violence is cyclical in nature. The battered woman’s inconsistent behavior allows the victim to anticipate oncoming violence and entices her to remain with her abuser after the violence ends. The tenant’s seemingly inconsistent behavior toward her partner, even if true, characterizes a battered woman.

Because the tenant is clearly a victim of domestic violence, the court prohibited the landlord from terminating the tenant’s Section 8 tenancy.

Domestic violence affects not only the victim, but also the community. Being a victim of domestic violence is difficult. To protect you and preserve your rights, there are New York Domestic Violence Attorneys who will stand by you and help see you through your case. These Attorneys can argue your side and make sure that you and your loved ones are compensated.

Lawyers at Stephen Bilkis & Associates are expert in family and domestic violence laws. They can provide you with advice to guide you through difficult situations. Without these Attorneys, you may lose your rights which may cost you a significant amount of money. Stephen Bilkis has convenient offices throughout the New York Metropolitan area, including Corona, NY.

In addition to Domestic Violence Law, Stephen Bilkis and Associates will recommend New York Assault Lawyers who will help you.

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