On November 16, 2016, HUD published a final rule implementing within its regulations the requirements of the 2013 reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (“VAWA”). The new rule takes effect on December 16, 2016, and full compliance with the rule is required no later than May 15, 2017. Along with the final rule, HUD published several model forms relating to documenting incidents of domestic violence and emergency transfer plans, as well as a Notice of Occupancy Rights form, which certain housing providers are required to provide to their tenants and applicants.
The new law creates more remedies for victims of domestic violence and also expands the definition of domestic violence. In particular, if a household has to be divided as a result of domestic violence, tenants must be given a reasonable time to reestablish eligibility for housing assistance under a VAWA-covered program or to find new housing. The rule clarifies that applicants for assisted housing, as well as current tenants, cannot have their assistance terminated for factors relating to them having been a victim of domestic violence, as that term is defined in VAWA. This definition includes dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.