January 2019 | Ariza Arif

New tenancy reforms to improve the protections for victims of domestic violence living in a rented property will commence on 28 February 2019.

Currently victims of domestic violence must give 14 days’ notice to break a fixed-term lease and face financial penalties for doing so.

The changes mean that  victims will be able to break a lease without penalty. To end the tenancy in circumstances of domestic violence, the victim will need to give the landlord or his or her agent and each co-tenant a domestic violence termination notice and attach one of the following permitted forms of evidence:

  1. a certificate of conviction for the domestic violence offence;
  2. a family law injunction order;
  3. a provisional, interim or final domestic violence order; or
  4. a declaration made by a medical practitioner in the prescribed form.

The changes also mean that perpetrators who damage rental property will be liable for that damage. At the moment, where the lease is in the victim’s name or in both names, the victim can be liable for any damage to the rental property and the victim can end up on a bad renters list, which means that securing a new place to live can be challenging.

The new measures help protect the privacy of victims of domestic violence and ensure that a victim’s ability to secure a rental property in the future is not negatively impacted upon by a domestic violence termination. When a victim of domestic violence terminates his or her tenancy by providing a domestic violence termination notice, they cannot be listed on a residential tenancy data list.

To ensure the domestic violence provisions in the Act are operating as intended and to identify any improvements required, there will be a review within 3 years of the new provisions commencing.