An Overview of Model Forms for VAWA Compliance
The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is a landmark piece of legislation that sought to improve criminal justice and community-based responses to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking in the United States. It was originally enacted in 1994 and has since been reauthorized several times. This year, VAWA is set to expire in September and is up for reauthorization. Recently, U.S. Rep. Sheila Lee and several other ranking House members announced that they would introduce VAWA’s reauthorization to the U.S. House. And the Senate Judiciary Committee recently held a hearing on the reauthorization. The committee heard from the Justice Department’s director of the Office of Violence Against Women as well as activists and a San Diego prosecutor on how the law helps survivors of domestic violence.
The 2005 reauthorization first included provisions that applied to housing, specifically the Section 8 and public housing programs, by conforming the laws governing these programs. At the time, HUD determined the provisions contained in VAWA 2005 were self-implementing, which meant owners were to implement the provisions of the law without waiting for regulatory guidance. Since that time, VAWA 2005 has been established through HUD Notices and incorporated into Change 4 of the HUD Handbook 4350.3.
In 2013, under the Obama administration, VAWA was again reauthorized and it was expanded to cover other programs administered by HUD and USDA Rural Development. HUD advised in 2013 that further guidance would be forthcoming. And in December 2016, HUD finally released the long-awaited guidance. At the time, HUD issued four forms and advised that form HUD-91067 (Lease Addendum) should continue to be used. HUD advised that owners and management companies could customize these forms for their sites as long as they contain the same information and language.
HUD-5380: VAWA Notice
HUD-5380 provides information to the household of their rights under VAWA. It can be found at https://www.hud.gov/program_offices/administration/hudclips/forms/hud5a as a Microsoft Word fill-in form so that it may be customized. It’s also available in multiple languages, consistent with HUD’s Limited English Proficiency guidance, at the HUD Clips website.
The Notice of Occupancy Rights document consists of eight pages explaining that VAWA provides protections for tenants of HUD-assisted housing programs and for people applying for housing assistance who are victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking. Applicants for assistance cannot be denied admission or assistance, and existing tenants cannot be denied assistance, be terminated, or be evicted because they are or have been victims.
The Notice of Occupancy Rights also makes clear that if a person or an “affiliated individual,” such as a spouse, parent, or sibling, is or has been victimized by a member of the household or a guest, the victim may not be denied rental assistance or occupancy solely on the basis of criminal activity directly related to that domestic violence. A housing provider may divide a lease in order to evict or terminate the assistance of someone who engaged in criminal activity directly related to domestic violence, while enabling the victim and others in the household to remain.
HUD-5381: Model Emergency Transfer Plan
The model Emergency Transfer Plan explains that a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking may request an emergency transfer to another unit. Someone is eligible for an emergency transfer if she reasonably believes that there is a threat of imminent harm from further violence. Also, if a tenant is a victim of sexual assault, the tenant may be eligible to transfer if the sexual assault occurred on the premises within the 90-calendar-day period prior to a request for an emergency transfer.
This form is not provided to residents, and owners are encouraged to post their plan and must make the emergency transfer plan available upon request. HUD-5381 can be found at the HUD Clips website as a Microsoft Word document so that it may be customized. It’s also available in multiple languages, consistent with HUD’s Limited English Proficiency guidance, at the HUD Clips website.
HUD-5382: VAWA Certification
The HUD-5382 form should be completed by any household member who’s seeking VAWA protection while residing at your site. It may be completed by the household member seeking to invoke her VAWA rights or by someone on her behalf. It states that the household member may be required to provide third-party documentation.
HUD’s implementation of VAWA establishes a low-barrier certification process. HUD has made it clear that under most circumstances, a survivor need only to self-certify in order to exercise her rights under VAWA, ensuring third-party documentation doesn’t cause a barrier to a survivor in expressing her rights and receiving the protections needed to keep herself safe. This form asks the person completing the form to: (1) state that an applicant or tenant is a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking; (2) state that the incident that’s the ground for protection meets the requirements under the statute; and (3) include the name of perpetrator, if the name is known and safe to provide. This form is available in multiple languages on the HUD Clips website.
HUD-5383: Emergency Transfer Request
The HUD-5383 form should be completed by any household member who’s seeking an emergency transfer while residing at your property. HUD has advised that the owner may require tenants to provide a written emergency transfer request. In other words, owners may also accept other written or oral requests for a transfer.
In addition, owners may require third-party documentation; the form lists a variety of acceptable documentation. However, the form advises the tenant that she needs to provide documentation only if it’s safe for her to do so. This form can also be found on HUD Clips and is available in multiple languages.
Distribution of Forms
HUD has advised owners that VAWA documents that expired June 30, 2017, can continue to be used until replaced. As stated in RHIIP Listserv Posting #376, owners were required, during the 12-month period following the effective date of the VAWA regulation, which ended Dec. 15, 2017, to give each household the notice of occupancy rights and the certification form either during the annual recertification or lease renewal process, or, if there will be no recertification or lease renewal for a household during the first year after the rule took effect, through other means.
As of Dec. 16, 2017, owners must provide the Notification of Occupancy Rights and Certification form with any notice of eviction or termination of assistance. And owners must provide the Notification of Occupancy Rights and Certification forms to applicants when assistance is being denied or at the time a new household moves into the site. Only one set of forms—Notice of Occupancy Rights (form HUD-5380) and the Certification Form (form HUD-5382)—must be given to each household and not to each member of a household.
Although HUD’s VAWA rule doesn’t require applicants or tenants to sign an acknowledgement of receipt of the forms, it’s strongly recommended that owners maintain a note or other documentation in each tenant file that indicates each applicant or tenant was given the Notice of Occupancy Rights (form HUD-5380) and Certification Form (form HUD-5382) at the time an applicant is denied assistance or admission or at the time a household is provided assistance or admission (i.e., at move-in) and with any notification of eviction or termination of assistance. It’s not necessary to resend these forms with subsequent notices for the same termination or eviction action.