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Domestic Violence & Tenant Protections

How Domestic Violence Charges Can Affect Housing

We’ve written about domestic violence plenty of times before, but it’s a topic so messy we can never fully cover it in one blog post! Domestic violence cases are often very tricky and not clear-cut. In our experience, they are rarely the one-sided, non-provoked, repeated physical violence that many of us think of as a “typical” DV situation. Here at Nicol Gersch Petterson, we’ve dealt with plenty of cases where we’ve represented the accused or the victim.  Oftentimes, the person accused of a crime can also be a victim as well!  During these uncertain times, couples are spending unusually long amounts of time together with added stressors such as children and finances.  Arguments can lead to physical violence, verbal harassment, financial abuse, or even stalking.

Domestic Violence and Tenant Protections

To learn more about what domestic violence is, see our blog post Understanding Domestic Violence. We also believe it is possible for an otherwise healthy, happy couple to end up with DV legal issues due to Colorado’s mandatory arrest law, which we’ve written about in our Unintended Domestic Violence post. Overall, plenty of situations can be considered domestic violence if it takes place between a couple. These include “minor” offenses such as accidentally breaking objects during an argument. What’s more are the unintended consequences a domestic violence charge or worse yet, conviction, can have.  Some of the most common are child custody proceedings, job applications, and housing.

Tenant Protections 

Many states, including Colorado, extend special protections to tenants who are victims of domestic violence. One of the most significant protections is the ability for victims to terminate a lease early. This is allowable if the victim wants to terminate the lease because of the danger of domestic abuse, notifies their landlord in writing, and gives their landlord one of these documents: 

  • a police report within 60 days documenting the abuse 
  • a valid protection order 
  • or a written statement from a medical professional or application assistant verifying the abuse 

If a victim chooses to terminate the lease early, they will have to pay one month’s rent for the month after they leave the residence. Other protections include:

  • Landlords cannot terminate a lease early or penalize tenants for calling the police due to domestic violence
  • Tenants cannot give up the right to call the police or emergency assistance for help during their tenancy, such as through waiving the right in their lease
  • Landlords are not allowed to evict a tenant solely because they are the victim of domestic violence
  • Landlords are obligated to keep information confidential, unless they are obligated to by law or the victim consents

Complications with Tenant Protections 

The above protections are a great start to help victims of domestic violence. However, these protections do not prohibit landlords from evicting victims who can not pay rent. Often in domestic violence situations, the abuser will control finances and leave the victim without means to pay rent themselves. Another complication is that often in these situations, as discussed above, the victim/abuser dynamic is not always clear cut. It is entirely possible for a victim to end up with a DV charge as well. And these tenant protections are not situational, and still apply when DV charges were accidental or unintended. Overall, domestic violence charges and the resulting aftermath can be incredibly messy. If you are facing legal troubles, remember that having an experienced criminal defense attorney represent you can have a significant effect on the outcome of your case. 

Need Legal Help? 

If you are in need of legal help, consider reaching out to Nicol Gersch Petterson for a free 30-minute consultation. Find more information at https://NicolGerschLaw.Com or call 970.670.0378.

IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: This blog post does not create an attorney-client relationship. It’s a blog post and not legal advice. Each case is different, and this post is meant for generalized knowledge, only. If you haven’t signed an engagement letter (or even received an engagement letter) AND issued some form of payment (peanuts do not count), then no attorney-client relationship exists. Nevertheless, we will do our best to ensure your confidentiality should you choose to contact us privately, but please do not post about your case in the comments here.

If you have done both of the things mentioned earlier–signed a letter and paid us–then, and only then do you establish an attorney/client relationship.  If you are uncertain about this, you should probably ask us for some clarity.  Until then, we’ll keep your secrets but we don’t formally represent you… YET.