protects the rights of victims of domestic and sexual violence
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[October 07, 2008]
CHICAGO -- Victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in
Illinois now have additional protections after Gov. Rod R.
Blagojevich took steps Monday to further strengthen the Safe Homes
Act. Under legislation signed by the governor, when victims must
leave a place of residence because they are in imminent danger and
fear, the landlord is prohibited from sharing the reason for the
victim's departure with prospective landlords.
"Home should be a place where people can feel safe with their
loved ones. Unfortunately, thousands of woman and children have
experienced the unthinkable act of domestic violence and sexual
assault and have felt fear in their homes," Blagojevich said. "Today
I am making it easier for victims to move to a safe home without
concern that the prospective landlord may learn of the domestic
violence history from the current landlord and be swayed to not rent
to the victim."
Senate Bill 2287, sponsored by Sen. Kwame
Raoul, D-Chicago, and Rep. Patricia Reid Linder, R-Sugar Grove, will
penalize landlords who violate the act by disclosing confidential
information and creating any negative effects for a tenant
attempting to move into a new home; violations will make the
landlords liable for damages up to $2,000.
This bill also enhances a law signed by the governor in 2006 that
gave tenants who fear they may become the victim of domestic or
sexual violence the right to flee existing dangerous housing, break
their lease or request a new set of locks for their doors. Under the
act, the landlord must change the lock within 48 hours or give the
tenant permission to change it. If the owner fails to change the
lock within that time, the tenant may change it without permission.
"I am proud to have sponsored this legislation to provide even
safer measures to protect the homes of victims of violence," said
Raoul. "This legislation will protect victims by preventing a former
landlord from having a negative influence on where the victim
decides to move."
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"I would like to thank the governor for his leadership on this
issue. We've remained committed to continuing improving the law to
protect victims of violence," said Linder.
Monday's action also ensures the confidentiality privilege
between a victim of domestic of sexual violence and a third party
will not be put at risk when that third party is providing evidence
to support a claim of domestic or sexual violence against the
"Domestic violence and sexual assault are two of the worst
crimes, and I commend the governor for strengthening of the act and
being a voice for those who have experienced domestic violence or
sexual assault," said John Bouman from the Sargent Shriver National
Center on Poverty Law.
[Text from file received from
Illinois Office of
Communication and Information]