State Representatives Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown) and Lisa Sobecki (D-Toledo) introduced a bill Thursday that would allow tenants to terminate their rental agreement if they are victims of rape or domestic violence. 

"After an arrest or protection order is issued, victims should not face hurdles that make it difficult for them to put distance between themselves and their abusers," said Rep. Lepore-Hagan. "What they do need is an exit strategy and assurances that they will be safe. HB 351 gives them an opportunity for a fresh start at a new address away from the person who is threatening or hurting them."

HB 351 will allow victims to end their lease agreement harm-free by presenting a certified copy of a qualifying court order to their landlord within 30 days of it's being issued.

Landlords will still be able to withhold a portion of any security deposit for damage that may have been done to the property before the tenant vacates.

If the victim is co-leasing the property, the other party will remain responsible for paying any due rent.

"Victims of domestic violence must be able to leave dangerous situations as quickly as possible," added Rep. Lepore-Hagan. "This law will save lives by giving survivors the freedom to move the moment the need arises."

The bill also stipulates that the definition of "nuisance" shall not include emergency service calls relating to domestic violence incidents.

The legislation is currently awaiting hearings before the Ohio House Civil Justice Committee.