State Laws Protecting Tenants in Domestic Violence Situations

Many states extend special protections, such as early lease termination rights or the right to have locks changed, to tenants who are victims of domestic violence (DV). Here is a summary of and citations for relevant state laws.

Many states extend special protections to tenants who are victims of domestic violence (DV), governing what the landlord can and cannot do in response to the situation. Most states also have procedures whereby tenants can obtain restraining orders against perpetrators; often the effect of these orders is to ban the perpetrator-tenant from the rental property (these laws are not cited in this chart). For information on obtaining restraining orders, contact local law enforcement.

Here is a summary of and citations for relevant state laws. To read your state laws, see the website maintained by the Cornell Legal Information Institute. For more information, check out Nolo's resources for victims of domestic violence, or contact local law enforcement or a battered women’s shelter.

State Laws in Domestic Violence Situations

Alabama

No statute

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Alaska

No statute

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Arizona

Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 33-1315, 33-1318, 33-1414

• Lease cannot include a waiver of some or all DV rights

• Landlord entitled to proof of DV status

• Early termination right for DV victim

• Lease cannot prohibit calling the police in a DV situation or otherwise penalize DV victim

• DV victim has the right to have the locks changed

• Penalty for falsely reporting domestic violence (including obtaining early termination)

• Perpetrator of DV liable to landlord for resulting damages

Miscellaneous provisions: Enumerated rights apply to victims of domestic violence and victims of a sexual assault in the tenant’s residence.

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Arkansas

Ark. Code Ann. § 18-16-112

• Landlord entitled to proof of DV status

• Landlord cannot refuse to rent to victim of DV

• Landlord cannot terminate a victim of DV

• Lease cannot prohibit calling the police in a DV situation or otherwise penalize DV victim

• DV victim has the right to have the locks changed

• Perpetrator of DV liable to landlord for resulting damages

• Landlord or court may bifurcate the lease

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California

Cal. Civ. Code §§ 1941.5, 1941.6, 1946.7; Cal. Code Civ. Proc. §§ 1161, 1161.3

• Landlord entitled to proof of DV status

• Landlord cannot refuse to rent to victim of DV

• Landlord cannot terminate a victim of DV

• Early termination right for DV victim

• DV is an affirmative defense to an eviction lawsuit

• DV victim has the right to have the locks changed

• Landlord or court may bifurcate the lease

• Landlord has limited right to evict the DV victim

Miscellaneous provisions: Protection against termination includes elder or dependent adults, and extends to crimes that caused injury or death. Documentation need only show with reasonable certainty that the qualifying act occurred. With additional documentation, tenant may move when the victim was not in the tenant's household or the act did not occur within 1,000 feet of the dwelling, when moving is necessary to increase the safety of the tenant or a member of the tenant's immediate family.

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Colorado

Colo. Rev. Stat. §§ 13-40-104(4), 13-40-107.5(5), 38-12-401, 38-12-402, 38-12-503

• Lease cannot include a waiver of some or all DV rights

• Landlord entitled to proof of DV status

• Landlord cannot terminate a victim of DV

• Early termination right for DV victim

• Lease cannot prohibit calling the police in a DV situation or otherwise penalize DV victim

Miscellaneous provisions: Legal protections extend to victims of unlawful sexual behavior and stalking, as well as domestic violence. Landlords may not disclose that tenants were victims of such acts, except with permission or as required by law. If tenant terminates because of these acts, and the tenant provides the landlord with a new address, the landlord may not disclose the new address to any person except with permission or as required by law.

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Connecticut

Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 47a-11e

• Landlord entitled to proof of DV status

• Early termination right for DV victim

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Delaware

Del. Code Ann. tit. 25, §§ 5141(7), 5314(b), 5316

• Landlord entitled to proof of DV status

• Landlord cannot terminate a victim of DV

• Early termination right for DV victim

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District of Columbia

D.C. Code Ann. §§ 2-1402.21, 42-3505.07, 42-3505.08

• Lease cannot include a waiver of some or all DV rights

• Landlord entitled to proof of DV status

• Landlord cannot refuse to rent to victim of DV

• Early termination right for DV victim

• DV is an affirmative defense to an eviction lawsuit

• Lease cannot prohibit calling the police in a DV situation or otherwise penalize DV victim

• DV victim has the right to have the locks changed

• Landlord or court may bifurcate the lease

Miscellaneous provisions: Landlord must make reasonable accommodation in restoring or improving security and safety measures that are beyond the landlord’s duty of ordinary care and diligence, when such accommodation is necessary to ensure the tenant’s security and safety (tenant may be billed for the cost).

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Florida

No statute

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Georgia

Ga. Code Ann. § 44-7-23

• Lease can't include waiver of some or all of DV rights

• Landlord entitled to proof of DV status

• Early termination right for DV victim

Miscellaneous provisions: Tenant can terminate without penalty with 30 days' written notice. The notice shall include a copy of the civil family violence order or criminal family violence order, as well as a police report if the order was an ex parte temporary protective order.

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Hawaii

Haw. Rev. Stat. §§ 521-80 to 521-82

• Landlord entitled to proof of DV status

• Early termination right for DV victim

• DV victim has the right to have the locks changed

• Penalty for falsely reporting domestic violence (including obtaining early termination)

• Landlord or court may bifurcate the lease

Miscellaneous provisions: Landlord may not disclose information gathered with respect to tenant’s exercise of rights under these laws, unless the tenant consents in writing, the information is required or relevant in a lawsuit, or the disclosure is required by law.

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Idaho

No statute

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Illinois

735 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/9-106.2; 765 Ill. Comp. Stat. 750/1 through 750/35

• Landlord entitled to proof of DV status

• Early termination right for DV victim

• DV is an affirmative defense to an eviction lawsuit

• DV victim has the right to have the locks changed

• Landlord or court may bifurcate the lease

Miscellaneous provisions: Landlord may not disclose to others that a tenant has exercised a right under the law; violations expose landlord to damages that result up to $2,000, as well as the tenant's attorneys' fees and costs.

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Indiana

Ind. Code Ann. §§ 32-31-9-1 through 32-31-9-15

• Landlord entitled to proof of DV status

• Landlord cannot refuse to rent to victim of DV

• Landlord cannot terminate a victim of DV

• Early termination right for DV victim

• Lease cannot prohibit calling the police in a DV situation or otherwise penalize DV victim

• DV victim has the right to have the locks changed

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Iowa

Iowa Code §§ 562A.27A, 562A.27B, 562B.25A(3)

• Lease cannot include a waiver of some or all DV rights

• Landlord entitled to proof of DV status

• Landlord cannot terminate a victim of DV

• Lease cannot prohibit calling the police in a DV situation or otherwise penalize DV victim

• Landlord has limited right to evict the DV victim

Miscellaneous provisions: Landlord can recover from the tenant the cost to repair damage caused by emergency responders called by tenant. Cities cannot impose penalties against residents or landlords, including fines, permit or license revocations, and evictions, when they had a reasonable belief that emergency assistance was necessary, and it was in fact needed.

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Kansas

Kan. Stat. Ann. § 58-25, 137

• Lease cannot include a waiver of some or all DV rights

• Landlord entitled to proof of DV status

• Landlord cannot refuse to rent to victim of DV

• Landlord cannot terminate a victim of DV

• Early termination right for DV victim

• DV is an affirmative defense to an eviction lawsuit

• Penalty for falsely reporting domestic violence (including obtaining early termination)

• Landlord or court may bifurcate the lease

Miscellaneous provisions: Protections extend to victims (within the past twelve months) of domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, and stalking. Landlord may impose a reasonable termination fee for victims who seek early termination, but only if this provision is included in the terms of the rental agreement or lease. Court may impose statutory damages of $1,000 and reasonable attorneys' fees and costs on landlords who violate the statute.

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Kentucky

Ky. Rev. Stat. §§ 383.300, 383.302

• Lease cannot include a waiver of some or all DV rights

• Landlord entitled to proof of DV status

• Landlord cannot refuse to rent to victim of DV

• Landlord cannot terminate a victim of DV

• Early termination right for DV victim

• DV is an affirmative defense to an eviction lawsuit

• DV victim has the right to have the locks changed

• Perpetrator of DV liable to landlord for resulting damages

• Landlord or court may bifurcate the lease

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Louisiana

La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 9:3261.1

• Lease cannot include a waiver of some or all DV rights

• Landlord entitled to proof of DV status

• Landlord cannot refuse to rent to victim of DV

• Landlord cannot terminate a victim of DV

• Early termination right for DV victim

• Lease cannot prohibit calling the police in a DV situation or otherwise penalize DV victim

Miscellaneous provisions: Statute applies only to multifamily housing of six or more units; does not apply if building has ten or fewer units and one is occupied by the owner.

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Maine

Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 14, §§ 6000, 6001, 6002, 6025

• Landlord entitled to proof of DV status

• Landlord cannot terminate a victim of DV

• Early termination right for DV victim

• DV victim has the right to have the locks changed

• Perpetrator of DV liable to landlord for resulting damages

• Landlord or court may bifurcate the lease

Miscellaneous provisions: Landlord may terminate and/or bifurcate the lease with 7 days’ notice when a tenant perpetrates domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking (against another tenant, a tenant’s guest, or the landlord or landlord’s employee or agent), and the victim is also a tenant.

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Maryland

Md. Code Ann. [Real Prop.] §§ 8-5A-01 through 8-5A-06

• Landlord entitled to proof of DV status

• Early termination right for DV victim

• DV is an affirmative defense to an eviction lawsuit

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Massachusetts

Mass Gen. Laws ch. 186, §§ 24, 25, 26, and 28; ch. 239, § 2A

• Lease cannot include a waiver of some or all DV rights

• Landlord entitled to proof of DV status

• Landlord cannot refuse to rent to victim of DV

• Early termination right for DV victim

• DV is an affirmative defense to an eviction lawsuit

• DV victim has the right to have the locks changed

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Michigan

Mich. Comp. Laws § 554.601b

• Landlord entitled to proof of DV status

• Early termination right for DV victim

• Landlord or court may bifurcate the lease

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Minnesota

Minn. Stat. Ann. §§ 504B.205, 206

• Lease cannot include a waiver of some or all DV rights

• Landlord entitled to proof of DV status

• Landlord cannot terminate a victim of DV

• Early termination right for DV victim

• DV is an affirmative defense to an eviction lawsuit

• Lease cannot prohibit calling the police in a DV situation or otherwise penalize DV victim

Miscellaneous provisions: Landlord must keep information about the domestic violence confidential. In a multitenant situation, termination by one tenant terminates the lease of all, though other tenants may reapply to enter into a new lease. All of the security deposit is forfeited.

Mississippi

No statute

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Missouri

Mo. Rev. Stat. § 441.920

• Landlord entitled to proof of DV status

• Landlord cannot refuse to rent to victim of DV

• Landlord cannot terminate a victim of DV

• Early termination right for DV victim

• DV is an affirmative defense to an eviction lawsuit

• Penalty for falsely reporting domestic violence

Miscellaneous provisions: Landlord may impose a reasonable termination fee on a tenant who desires to terminate a lease before the expiration of the date of the lease due to status as a DV victim.

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Montana

No statute

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Nebraska

Neb. Rev. Stat. § 76-1431

Landlord has limited right to evict the DV victim

Miscellaneous provisions: Landlord's right to unconditionally terminate the lease following on-site criminal acts, sale of illegal substances, or any act that threatens health and safety does not apply if tenant has sought a protective order against the perpetrator or has asked for police help in an effort to bring charges against the perpetrator.

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Nevada

Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 118A.345, 118A.347, 118A.510

• Lease cannot include a waiver of some or all DV rights

• Landlord entitled to proof of DV status

• Landlord cannot terminate a victim of DV

• Early termination right for DV victim

• DV victim has the right to have the locks changed

• Perpetrator of DV liable to landlord for resulting damages

Miscellaneous provisions: Protections extend to victims of harassment, sexual assault, and stalking, as well as domestic violence. Landlord may not disclose the fact of a tenant’s early termination to a prospective landlord; nor may a prospective landlord require an applicant to disclose any prior early terminations. Antiretaliation protection extended to tenants who are domestic violence victims or who have terminated a rental agreement pursuant to law.

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New Hampshire

N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 540:2.VII

• Landlord entitled to proof of DV status

• Landlord cannot terminate a victim of DV

• DV victim has the right to have the locks changed

• Landlord or court may bifurcate the lease

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New Jersey

N.J. Stat. Ann. §§ 46:8-9.5 through 46:8-9.12

• Lease cannot include a waiver of some or all DV rights

• Landlord entitled to proof of DV status

• Early termination right for DV victim

Miscellaneous provisions: Landlord may not disclose information provided by a tenant that documents domestic violence.

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New Mexico

N.M. Stat. Ann. § 47-8-33(J)

• DV is an affirmative defense to an eviction lawsuit

• Landlord or court may bifurcate the lease

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New York

N.Y. Real Prop. Law §§ 227-c(2) and 227–d; N.Y. Real Prop. Acts. Law § 744; N.Y. Crim. Proc. Law § 530.13(1); N.Y. Dom. Rel. Law § 240(3)

Landlord entitled to proof of DV status

• Landlord cannot refuse to rent to victim of DV

• Landlord cannot terminate a victim of DV

• Early termination right for DV victim

• Penalty for falsely reporting domestic violence (including obtaining early termination)

• Landlord or court may bifurcate the lease

Miscellaneous provisions: Victim must follow statutory requirements in order to take advantage of right of early termination. Anti-discrimination protection and eviction protection do not apply to owner-occupied buildings with two or fewer units.

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North Carolina

N.C. Gen. Stat. §§ 42-40, 42-42.2, 42-42.3, 42-45.1

• Landlord entitled to proof of DV status

• Landlord cannot refuse to rent to victim of DV

• Early termination right for DV victim

• DV victim has the right to have the locks changed

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North Dakota

N.D. Cent. Code §§ 42-45.1, 47-16-17.1

• Landlord entitled to proof of DV status

• Landlord cannot refuse to rent to victim of DV

• Landlord cannot terminate a victim of DV

• Early termination right for DV victim

Miscellaneous provisions: Landlord may not disclose information provided by a tenant that documents domestic violence. Landlords who violate the provisions providing early termination are subject to damages including actual damages, $1,000, reasonable attorneys’ fees, costs, and disbursements. Perpetrators who have been excluded from the dwelling by court order, as well as any remaining tenants, remain jointly and severally liable for rent and damages.

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Ohio

No statute

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Oklahoma

No statute

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Oregon

Or. Rev. Stat. §§ 90.449, 90.453, 90.456, 90.459

• Landlord entitled to proof of DV status

• Landlord cannot refuse to rent to victim of DV

• Landlord cannot terminate a victim of DV

• Early termination right for DV victim

• DV is an affirmative defense to an eviction lawsuit

• Lease cannot prohibit calling the police in a DV situation or otherwise penalize DV victim

• DV victim has the right to have the locks changed

• Landlord or court may bifurcate the lease

• Landlord has limited right to evict the DV victim

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Pennsylvania

53 Pa. C.S.A. § 304

Miscellaneous provisions: This state law shields residents, tenants, and landlords from penalties that could otherwise be levied under a local ordinance or regulation when police or emergency services respond to a residence or tenancy to assist a victim of abuse or crime. Does not give domestic violence victims direct protection, nor does it impose duties or restrictions on landlords.

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Rhode Island

R.I. Gen. Laws §§ 34-37-1 through 34-37-4

• Landlord cannot refuse to rent to victim of DV

• Landlord cannot terminate a victim of DV

• Landlord or court may bifurcate the lease

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South Carolina

No statute

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South Dakota

S.D. Codified Laws §§ 43-32-18.1, 43-32-19.1

• Lease cannot include a waiver of some or all DV rights

• Landlord entitled to proof of DV status

• Early termination right for DV victim

Miscellaneous provisions: When tenants exercise early termination rights and provide the landlord with a forwarding address or other contact information, the landlord may not disclose the new address or information to any person unless the tenant gives permission or as required by law.

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Tennessee

Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 66-7-109(e), 66-28-517(g)

• Landlord entitled to proof of DV status

• Landlord cannot terminate a victim of DV

• Landlord or court may bifurcate the lease

• Landlord has limited right to evict the DV victim

Miscellaneous provisions: The rights granted under this law do not apply when the perpetrator is a child or dependent of any tenant. Landlord may evict a victim who allows an ousted perpetrator to return to the premises.

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Texas

Tex. Prop. Code Ann. §§ 92.015, 92.016, 92.0161

• Lease cannot include a waiver of some or all DV rights

• Landlord entitled to proof of DV status

• Early termination right for DV victim

• Lease cannot prohibit calling the police in a DV situation or otherwise penalize DV victim

Miscellaneous provisions: Tenant who exercises termination rights will be released from any delinquent rent unless the lease includes a clause that specifically describes tenants’ rights in domestic violence situations. Landlord may not prohibit or limit a tenant’s right to call police or other emergency assistance, based on the tenant’s reasonable belief that such help is necessary.

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Utah

Utah Code Ann. § 57-22-5.1

• Landlord entitled to proof of DV status

• Early termination right for DV victim

• Lease cannot prohibit calling the police in a DV situation or otherwise penalize DV victim

• DV victim has the right to have the locks changed

Miscellaneous provisions: When the landlord has rekeyed, a perpetrator who does not receive a key and who is a cotenant but not barred from the rental may ask a court for access and a key or, in the alternative, to be relieved from any further liability under the lease (relief from liability is not available to perpetrators who are found by a court to have committed the underlying act of violence).

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Vermont

15 Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 1103(c)(2)(B); 9 Vt. Stat. Ann. §§ 4471-4475

• Landlord entitled to proof of DV status

• Early termination right for DV victim

• DV victim has the right to have the locks changed

• Landlord or court may bifurcate the lease

Miscellaneous provisions: Protected tenants include victims as well as parents, foster parents, legal guardians, and caretakers with at least partial physical custody of a victim of abuse, sexual assault, or stalking. Landlords with documentation or knowledge of a tenant’s status as a domestic violence victim must, with exceptions, keep the information confidential (must not divulge to subsequent landlords) unless authorized by the tenant.

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Virginia

Va. Code Ann. §§ 55.1-1208, 55.1-1236, 55.1-1230

• Lease cannot include a waiver of some or all DV rights

• Landlord entitled to proof of DV status

• Landlord cannot terminate a victim of DV

• Early termination right for DV victim

• DV victim has the right to have the locks changed

• Perpetrator of DV liable to landlord for resulting damages

• Landlord or court may bifurcate the lease

Miscellaneous provisions: Right to change locks extends to "authorized occupants" (persons who occupy with landlord's consent but have not signed a rental agreement and are not responsible for rent). Victim with a restraining order loses the right to continued occupation if the perpetrator reappears and victim fails to notify landlord. (Va. Code Ann. § 55.1-1230.)

A landlord must consider evidence of a rental applicant's status as a victim of family abuse to mitigate any adverse affect of an otherwise qualified applicant's low credit score. Statute provides direction on how applicant can show status as a victim. (Va. Code Ann. § 55.1-1203.)

If an otherwise qualified applicant's status as a domestic violence victim negatively affected the applicants credit score, landlord must disregard the negative effect (tenant must provide documentation of domestic violence status).

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Washington

Wash. Rev. Code Ann. §§ 59.18.570, 59.18.575, 59.18.580, 59.18.585, 59.18.352, 59.18.130(8)(b)(ii)

• Landlord entitled to proof of DV status

• Landlord cannot refuse to rent to victim of DV

• Landlord cannot terminate a victim of DV

• Early termination right for DV victim

• DV is an affirmative defense to an eviction lawsuit

• DV victim has the right to have the locks changed

Miscellaneous provisions: Victim tenants can terminate early, but the request to terminate must occur within 90 days of the reported act of violence that gave rise to a protective order or report to a qualified third party. The law also recognizes the possibility that the landlord might be the perpetrator of violence, and provides special protections for victims of landlord violence and stalking.

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West Virginia

No statute

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Wisconsin

Wis. Stat. §§ 106.50, 704.14, 704.16

• Landlord entitled to proof of DV status

• Landlord cannot refuse to rent to victim of DV

• Landlord cannot terminate a victim of DV

• Early termination right for DV victim

• DV is an affirmative defense to an eviction lawsuit

• DV victim has the right to have the locks changed

• Landlord has limited right to evict the DV victim

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Wyoming

Wyo. Stat. Ann. §§ 1-21-1301 to 1-21-1304

• Lease cannot include a waiver of some or all DV rights

• Landlord entitled to proof of DV status

• Landlord cannot terminate a victim of DV

• Early termination right for DV victim

• Landlord has limited right to evict the DV victim

Updated: December 10, 2020

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