Domestic Violence and Renting

News update

On 20 November 2019, Parliament passed legislation expanding the list of ‘competent person’ able to provide a declaration as evidence of domestic violence to support a victim-survivor of domestic violence to end their tenancy immediately in circumstances of domestic violence.

Once the legislation is proclaimed a ‘competent person’ will include:

  • a broader range of health practitioners,
  • registered social workers,
  • an employee of a government agency that provides child welfare services,
  • an employee of a non-government agency receiving government funding to provide services relating to:
    • domestic violence or sexual assault,
    • refuge or emergency accommodation,
  • a counsellor approved under the Victims Support Scheme,
  • or a person prescribed by future regulations

We welcome this important reform.  We will continue to work with the Government to ensure these protections can be accessed by those who most need them, including through further additions to the list of ‘competent person’ through future regulations.

Media release: Sector welcomes important reforms to tenancy laws to further protect victims-survivors of domestic violence

Domestic violence is a leading cause of homelessness for women and children. Victims, also referred to as survivors, of domestic violence often need to flee their homes quickly in order to keep themselves and their children safe. 

Women’s Legal Service NSW, along with many other community organisations, advocated for a change to the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 and welcome the reforms which came into effect on 28 February 2019. The reforms go a long way towards improving the rights of victims of domestic violence who are renting. The reforms enable victims of domestic violence to end their tenancy immediately without liability if they, or a dependent child, are in ‘circumstances of domestic violence’.

  • Victims of domestic violence can now end their tenancies immediately, without liability, by giving a notice of termination and attaching a copy of a domestic violence (protection) order, or a family law injunction, or a record of conviction or a declaration from a ‘competent person’, defined to include only medical practitioners.
  • Victims of domestic violence are no longer vicariously liable for damage to rental properties caused by domestic violence offenders.
  • Landlords are now prohibited from listing a person who ended their tenancy by giving a domestic violence termination notice on a bad tenant database.

There are a number of resources available for providing information and assistance to victims of domestic violence who are renting.

WLS NSW have published this factsheet ‘Know Your Rights’ for tenants.

For a sample domestic violence termination notice visit the Tenants Union website.

For more information a Legal Updates article was published in the Law Society Journal.

Further information can be found on the Department of Fair Trading website

And this poster is available to download

 

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