Examples of Connection Between Domestic Violence and Housing Problems (Credit History, Criminal Background, Evictions, Unpaid Rent)

If you are a survivor of domestic violence you may be able to request that a housing program make an exception to any of these policies:

  • Poor credit
  • Past evictions
  • Criminal history
  • Past unpaid rent

You can make this request based on VAWA laws. Although this law uses the word “women”, these protections are available to all genders. Learn more: VAWA Protections


Examples of Connection Between Domestic Violence and Housing Problem

To make this request, you will need to show a connection between the domestic violence and the problem with credit or background checks. Below are some examples of connections. From the HUD Notice on VAWA Protections:

Poor credit history.

Depending on the circumstances, poor credit history may be a direct result of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking when the domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking results in, for example:

 Forcing a victim to obtain credit, including credit cards for the perpetrator’s use.
 Using a victim’s credit or debit card without permission, or forcing them to do so.
 Selling victims’ personally identifying information to identity thieves.
 Running up debt on joint accounts.
 Obtaining loans/mortgages in a victim’s name.
 Preventing a victim from obtaining and/or maintaining employment.
 Sabotaging work or employment opportunities by stalking or harassing a victim at the workplace, or causing a victim to lose their job by physically battering the victim prior to important meetings or interviews.
 Placing utilities or other bills in a victim’s name and then refusing to pay.
 Forcing a victim to work without pay in a family business, or forcing them to turn their earnings over to
the abuser.
 Job loss or employment discrimination due to status as a victim of domestic violence, dating violence,
sexual assault, or stalking.
 Job loss or lost wages due to missed work to attend court hearings, seek counseling or medical care, or
deal with other consequences of the crime.
 Hospitalization and medical bills the victim cannot pay or cannot pay along with other bills.

Poor rental history.

Depending on the circumstances, poor rental history may be a direct result of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking, when the domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking results in, for example:
 Property damage;
 Noise complaints;
 Harassment;
 Trespassing;
 Threats;
 Criminal activity;
 Missed or late utility payments(s);
 Missed or late rental payment(s);
 Writing bad checks to the landlord; or
 Early lease termination and/or short lease terms.

Criminal record.

Depending on the circumstances, a criminal record may be a direct result of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking when the domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking results in, for example:
 Forcing a victim to write bad checks, misuse credit, or file fraudulent tax returns;
 Property damage;
 Theft;
 Disorderly conduct;
 Threats;
 Trespassing;
 Noise complaints;
 Family disturbance/trouble;
 911 abuse;
 Public drunkenness;
 Drug activity (drug use and the selling of drugs);
 Crimes related to sex work;
 “Failure to protect” a child from a batterer’s violence and/or abuse;
 Crimes committed by a victim to defend themselves or in defense of third parties from domestic
violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking; or
 Human trafficking.

Failure to pay rent.

Depending on the circumstances, temporary failure to pay rent may be a direct result of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking, when domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking results in, for example:
 The victim’s injury or temporary incapacitation;
 The arrest of the only wage-earning member of the household;
 Preventing the victim from obtaining and/or maintaining employment;
 Sabotaging work or employment opportunities by stalking or harassing the victim at the workplace;  Causing the victim to lose the victim’s job by physically battering prior to important meetings or
interviews;
 Placing utilities or other bills in the victim’s name and then refusing to pay;
 Forcing the victim to turn their earnings over to the abuser;
 Forcing the victim to work without pay in a family business;
 Job loss or employment discrimination due to status as a victim of domestic violence, dating violence,
sexual assault, or stalking;
 Losing wages or a job due to missing work to attend court hearings, seek counseling or medical care, or
deal with other consequences of the crime can result in loss wages and unemployment; or
 Inability to pay bills after significant medical expenses resulting from the victim’s hospitalization.


Thanks for Reading

🌸 Here’s where you can find more handy: Sample Letters for Exception to Background Checks

🌸 Learn More: The Sleepy Girl Affordable Housing Survival Guide

🌸 Art on this page by Robin Mead and Elizabeth D’Angelo.

🌸 Facebook group for people with disabilities and family members: Disability Support & Self Advocacy in HUD & Section 8 Housing

🌸 Page Updated: 1/10/20

🌸 To get daily updates on helpful disability services, and low income programs, follow us on Facebook: The Sleepy Girl Guide.

🌸 Please comment below with stories, ideas, questions or suggestions. Please let us know if any links on this page stop working. Please share this page with others by pressing one of these magic little buttons:

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