This bill would allow sexual assault victims to end their leases early in Louisiana

Published: April 14, 2021

By: Kathleen Peppo | | LSU Manship School News Service

Sexual assault bill 041421
SU student Isabella Rovere, left, shared a personal experience with sexual assault during a House Civil Law & Procedure committee hearing on Wednesday, April 14, 2021, as she sat alongside fellow LSU student Angelina Cantelli, Co-President of Tigers Against Sexual Assault. LSU Manship School News Service photo by Kathleen Peppo

A bill to allow survivors of sexual assault to terminate housing leases early moved forward Wednesday.

State Rep. Aimee Freeman, D-New Orleans, who brought House Bill 375, said that she did so for the sake of all sexual assault survivors, but especially for college students who are victims of sexual assault.

“Of course, it’s way more relevant based on all the testimony that’s been happening in this Capitol, even though I started working on it before the stories on sexual assault and the coverup at LSU happened,” Freeman said, referring to criticism of the university’s handling of sexual assault complaints against football players.

Current law allows for survivors of domestic violence to abandon a lease early.

But if a survivor of sexual assault who is not in a relationship with the abuser asks to be released from his or her rental agreement, and a landlord refuses, the survivor has no choice but to continue paying rent until the lease ends.

Freeman’s HB375 would extend the right to abandon the lease to include survivors of abuse who are not in an intimate relationship with their abuser.

Freeman said that it is not only necessary for the safety of many survivors to terminate a lease early, as their abusers often know where they live, but also for their healing.

“Survivors often have flashbacks or nightmares,” Freeman said. “Sometimes it affects their ability to go to school or work.”

One LSU student, Isabella Rovere, who spoke before the House Civil Law and Procedure Committee in favor of the bill described a situation in which she was sexually assaulted and her parents lost rent money on a place where she no longer could bear to live.

Read more at The Advocate

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