New domestic violence laws to protect tenants

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New domestic violence laws to protect tenants

Recently revised tenancy laws have been welcomed by organisations working with victims of domestic violence.

The new laws, which will be introduced into Parliament during the first half of 2017, will mean tenants who are victims of domestic violence will immediately be able to end their Tenancy Agreement rather than wait the usual 14 days. They can do so by providing a provisional, interim or final Apprehended Violence Order (AVO).

Previously, victims of domestic violence had to secure a final AVO before they could end their tenancies, which could sometimes drag on for many months in the courts. A provisional AVO, on the other hand, can be issued on the spot by police allowing victims to end their tenancy immediately.

The legislative changes also mean that victims will no longer be liable for any damage to property or rental debt caused by a violent partner. In fact landlords and agents will be prohibited from listing victims on any of the tenancy databases holding this information.

Importantly, the proposed changes will not only recognise domestic violence in our tenancy legislation, but will also provide further protection for victims in the tenancy sector (including rooming house residents) to either:

  • Continue in the tenancy without the perpetrator,
  • Leave the tenancy and no longer be liable for the premises, or
  • Terminate the tenancy altogether.

The proposed changes aim to ensure that victims are supported and can remain in their homes when it is safe to do so.

Read more about the amends to the Residential Tenancies Act with regards to domestic violence.