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Kansas City Considers Requiring Landlords To Allow Domestic Violence Victims Out Of Leases

Rebecca Hange
KCUR 89.3

Domestic violence victims often have a hard time moving to safety because landlords won’t let them out of their leases.

That could soon change in Kansas City.

City Councilwoman Jolie Justus says abusers often live with domestic violence victims or know their address.

Moving might be the only way for victims to stay safe, but some landlords are reluctant to break a lease, Justus says.

So she’s proposed an ordinance to change that.

“This would allow those folks who do have a protective order from the court to say that the city of Kansas City requires you to terminate this lease so that they can find a safe place to live.”

At least 18 states have laws that require landlords to let domestic violence victims break their lease. Kansas and Missouri are not among them.

"There ae good landlords who do that, but you may not be so lucky," says Colleen Coble with the Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence.

That's why she's lobbied the last two years for a statewide law in Missouri.

Missouri Rep. Lauren Arthur, a Democrat from Clay County who last month won a special election for a state Senate seat, introduced a bill last session to change the rental law in Missouri for domestic violence victims. The bill stalled and didn't get a hearing.

Some states allow landlords to kick out the abuser and let the victim stay in their home. "If you have a chance to stay safe in your own home, that's preferable," Coble says.

A hearing on the Kansas City ordinance is scheduled for Wednesday in council's Neighborhoods and Public Safety Committee.

Sam Zeffis KCUR's Metro Reporter. You can follow Sam on Twitter @samzeff

You deserve to know what your taxpayer dollars are paying for and what public officials are doing on your behalf – I’ll work to report on irresponsible government spending in the Kansas City area and shed light on controversies that slow government down. And when you hear my voice in the morning, you know you’re getting everything you need to start your day. Email me at sam@kcur.org, find me on Twitter @samzeff or call me at 816-235-5004.
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