Domestic Violence and Renting

New laws to strengthen protections for domestic violence renters

Women’s Legal Service NSW, together with many women’s and community organisations and domestic violence survivors have long argued that the Residential Tenancies Act should be reformed to better protect tenants who are victims of domestic violence.  On 20 September 2018 the NSW Government introduced the Residential Tenancies Amendment (Review) Bill 2018.  This legislation will strengthen protections for victims-survivors of domestic violence.  We welcome these important changes.

The Bill will make a significant difference in the lives of domestic violence victims-survivors:

  1. Victims-survivors of domestic violence will be able to terminate their tenancy immediately without penalty when they provide a domestic violence termination notice to the landlord and each other co-tenant. Evidence of domestic violence includes:
    • a domestic violence order, or
    • a personal protection injunction under the Family Law Act, or
    • a copy of a certificate of conviction in proceedings against the relevant domestic violence offender for the domestic violence offence, or
    • a declaration by a medical practitioner
  2. Perpetrators who damage property will be liable for that damage.  A victim of violence or another tenant who is not the relevant domestic violence offender will not be liable for damage to residential property caused during the commission of a domestic violence offence.
  3. A victim-survivor of domestic violence who terminates their tenancy by providing a domestic violence termination notice cannot be listed on a residential tenancy data list

Under the current tenancy laws in NSW women escaping violence need a final apprehended violence order (AVO) with an exclusion order to leave without penalty. Additionally, even then they have to provide 14 days notice. Women and children experiencing domestic violence often need to flee their home quickly in order to remain safe.

Further, if women just abandon their rental property, they can incur significant debts and be black listed, which can make it very difficult for them to rent again.

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

Read our media release dated 21 September.

See our previous work on domestic violence and renting here:

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