Can I be evicted for domestic or sexual violence?

No. The Philadelphia Unfair Rental Practices Ordinance makes it illegal for your landlord to evict you, raise your rent or refuse to make repairs because you are a victim of domestic violence or sexual assault. However, you can still be evicted for not paying rent.

What should I do if I am being evicted?

Send your landlord a letter explaining that you are a victim of domestic or sexual violence and that Philadelphia law makes it illegal for him to evict you because of domestic or sexual violence. If your landlord will not listen, you can file a complaint with the Philadelphia Fair Housing Commission by calling 215.686.4670 or get legal help.

Can I break my lease to escape violence?

Yes.  Within 90 days of a reported incident (such as a hospital visit, call to 911, filing for a protection order, etc.), send your landlord:

  • A letter stating that you will be moving in 30 days. (download sample)
  • Include with your letter at least one form of proof such as a police report, protection from abuse order or letter from a health care professional, guidance counselor, or victims’ services organization.

Can just the abuser be evicted?

Yes, under Philadelphia law, you can ask your landlord to split the lease and evict your abuser, letting you stay. You would become responsible for paying the full rent. Your landlord does not have to agree.

Can I be evicted for calling the police?

No, your landlord cannot evict or punish you for calling the police to protect yourself or a family member.

What if I live in subsidized housing?

If you live in Section 8 Voucher, HUD or public housing, you are protected by the Philadelphia Unfair Rental Practices Ordinance and the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). You cannot be denied admission or evicted because of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence or stalking. You also can’t lose your voucher if you break your lease to escape violence.

For more information about assistance for victims of domestic violence contact Women Against Abuse 866-723-3014 or seek legal help.