The U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) final rule regarding the implementation of housing protections authorized in the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (VAWA) was published in the Federal Register on November 16, 2016.
In addition to the Final Rule, HUD has published a notice titled the Notice of Occupancy Rights under the Violence Against Women Act that certain housing providers must give to tenants and applicants to ensure that they are aware of their rights under VAWA and these implementing regulations, a model emergency transfer plan that may be used by housing providers to develop their owner emergency transfer plans, a model emergency transfer request form that housing providers could provide to tenants requesting an emergency transfer, and a new certification form for documenting incidents of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking that must be used by housing providers.
Some of the critical components of the final rule include:
- Continuation of the core protections – The rule codifies the core protection across HUD’s covered programs ensuring that survivors are not denied assistance as an applicant, or evicted or have assistance terminated due to having been a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking, or for being affiliated with a victim.
- Emergency Transfers – One of the key elements of VAWA’s housing protections are emergency transfers which allows for survivors to move to another safe and available unit if they fear for their life and safety. The final rule includes a model emergency transfer plan, which was required in VAWA 2013, and an emergency transfer request form.
- Protections Against the Adverse Effects of Abuse – The final rule ensures that covered housing providers do not deny tenancy or occupancy rights based solely on adverse factors that are a direct result of being a survivor.
- Low Barrier Certification Process – The final rule makes it clear that under most circumstances, a survivor need only to self-certify in order to exercise their rights under VAWA, ensuring third –party documentation does not cause a barrier in a survivor expressing their rights and receiving the protections needed to keep themselves safe. The rule includes a certification form that may be used by covered housing providers.
This final rule is effective on December 16, 2016, and compliance with the rule with respect to completing an emergency transfer plan and providing emergency transfers, and associated recordkeeping and reporting requirements, is required no later than May 15, 2017.
All owners and managers of properties subject to VAWA 2013 should obtain a copy of the final rule and move toward implementation. The rule is long (102 pages) and complex. I will be providing guidance on each area of the new rule over the coming weeks to assist clients in implementation. In the meantime, if you have specific questions regarding the new final rule, please feel free to contact me.