Revised to address property owners’ concerns, a bill that enhances protections for renters who fall victim to domestic violence is closer to becoming law.

Assemlyman David Chiu
Assemlyman David Chiu

The Senate Judiciary Committee this week approved AB 418 by Assemblyman David Chiu, D-San Francisco, on a 7-0 vote and now heads to the Senate floor. The bill had already passed the Assembly after the author took amendments from the California Apartment Association.

The bill would make permanent a 2013 law that allows victims of abuse to quickly exit their residential leases without penalty. The law, SB 612 by Sen. Mark Leno, is set to sunset this coming January.

In addition to making the tenant protections in Leno’s bill permanent, Chiu’s bill would allow qualifying tenants to get out of their leases on a 14-day notice — less than half the 30 days’ notice required in Leno’s law.

CAA supported the bill after Chiu agreed to remove a proposal to reduce a landlord’s time for returning the tenant’s security deposit from 21 days to 14 days. As amended, all references to the security deposit have been removed from the bill.

“CAA members don’t believe that a landlord should hold victims liable for extended rent when they are fleeing a dangerous domestic situation,” the California Apartment Association says in a letter supporting AB 418. “In many cases, a move from the property is the best decision for the victim and the family as well as other tenants at the property.”

Before using these protections to exit rental agreements, tenants must show some evidence of domestic violence. For example, a tenant could attach a copy of a temporary restraining order or police report to the notice to vacate early.