§521-80 Early termination of tenancy; victims of domestic violence. (a) A tenant may terminate a rental agreement of a term of one year or less without penalty or fees for early termination or liability for future rent if the tenant or an immediate family member of the tenant residing at the dwelling unit has been the victim of domestic violence during the ninety days preceding the date the notice of early termination is provided to the landlord. The notice shall be given at least fourteen days prior to the early termination date specified in the notice, which shall be no more than one hundred four days from the date of the most recent act of domestic violence. The notice shall be accompanied by one of the following documents:
(1) Certified or exemplified restraining orders, injunctions against harassment, and documents from criminal cases;
(2) Documentation from a victim services organization or domestic violence program, agency, or facility, including a shelter or safe house for victims of domestic violence; or
(3) Documentation from a medical professional, mental health care provider, attorney, advocate, social worker, or member of the clergy from whom the victim has sought assistance in relation to the domestic violence.
The tenant shall also provide to the landlord a written statement, which describes that the tenant reasonably believes that the person who committed the domestic violence knows the address or location where the tenant or immediate family member of the tenant resides, unless the person who committed the domestic violence resides in the same dwelling unit.
(b) If the tenant is solely liable on the rental agreement, the rental agreement shall terminate on the early termination date described in subsection (a), and the tenant shall be liable for rent owed through the early termination date plus any previous obligations outstanding as of that date. The amount due from the tenant shall be paid to the landlord on or before the early termination date.
(c) If there are multiple tenants who are parties to the rental agreement, the release of one or more tenants under this section shall not terminate the rental agreement with respect to the other non-terminating tenants; provided that the other non-terminating tenants demonstrate an ability to pay the rent under the rental agreement, as determined by the landlord. If the other non-terminating tenants fail to demonstrate an ability to pay the rent, the landlord may terminate the rental agreement by giving notice of early termination to the other non-terminating tenants at least fourteen days prior to the early termination date specified in the notice; provided that the landlord shall not assess any penalty or fees for the early termination. The amount due from the other non-terminating tenants shall be paid to the landlord on or before the early termination date.
The landlord shall not be required to refund security deposits under section 521-44 or prepaid rent until:
(1) The rental agreement terminates with respect to all tenants and the dwelling unit is surrendered to the landlord; or
(2) Early termination is effected pursuant to this subsection, in which case each terminating tenant shall receive a prorated share of any security deposit or prepaid rent from the landlord upon termination of the rental agreement; provided that the percentage of any security deposit to be returned shall be determined by the court or by the parties in writing; provided further that if there is no determination made by the court or by the parties regarding the percentage share of the security deposit, the landlord shall be permitted to refund the security deposit in equal shares to each tenant on the rental agreement.
(d) If a tenant submits notice of early termination in compliance with this section, the landlord shall:
(1) Return a prorated share of all security deposits recoverable by the terminating tenant under section 521-44 and prepaid rent recoverable by the terminating tenant following the tenant's surrender of the dwelling unit, except as otherwise provided in subsection (c); provided that the landlord may withhold a prorated amount of the security deposit for payment of damages that the landlord has suffered by reason of the terminating tenant's noncompliance with section 521-51;
(2) Not assess any fee or penalty against the terminating tenant for exercising any right granted under this section; and
(3) Not disclose any information reported to the landlord under this section unless:
(A) The tenant consents to the disclosure of the information in a statement signed by the tenant;
(B) The information is required or is relevant in a judicial action; or
(C) The disclosure is required by other law.
(e) The landlord may recover from the person who committed domestic violence against the tenant or tenant's immediate family member actual damages resulting from the tenant's exercise of rights under this section. In addition, if the person who committed domestic violence is a party to the rental agreement, the landlord may:
(1) Allow the person to remain in possession of the dwelling unit and hold the person liable on the rental agreement for all future rents payable thereunder; or
(2) Terminate the person's interest under the rental agreement by notifying the person in writing at least five days in advance of the anticipated termination. The landlord may evict the person if the person fails to vacate the dwelling unit on the specified termination date.
(f) If a tenant knowingly submits false notice or accompanying documentation to a landlord in support of the right to be released from the rental agreement under this section, the landlord may recover an amount equal to three months periodic rent or threefold actual damages, whichever is greater, plus costs and reasonable attorney's fees.
(g) The person who committed domestic violence against the tenant or immediate family member of the tenant shall not be entitled to any damages or other relief against the landlord or tenant who complies with this section in good faith.
(h) This section shall not affect a tenant's liability for delinquent, unpaid rent, or other amounts owed to the landlord before the rental agreement was terminated by the tenant under this section. [L 2015, c 220, pt of §1; am L 2020, c 19, §10]