The State and Commonwealth Governments have made many positive changes to family and domestic violence laws across the country of late, helping people in desperate abuse situations with support and options. One welcome area of reform is to that of tenants in rental properties.
Before the new laws came in, it was difficult for tenants who had been affected by family and domestic violence to end a lease or a rental agreement. The old law held all parties responsible if they terminated a lease before the term was up. They were all equally responsible for breaking the lease expenses and damage not covered by the bond.
We’ve come across tenants living in abuse situations forced to pay out these penalties, which can also place them on tenancy “black-lists” which makes finding new accommodation even harder. This makes someone in a vulnerable position struggle to get back on their feet and away from their abuser.
The new tenancy laws now give survivors of domestic or family violence more protection. Someone deemed a “protected person” can break the lease by making an application to VCAT to either have the lease terminated or have the co-tenant removed from the lease effective immediately.
In Victoria, a protected person or tenant must follow the procedures such as making an application to VCAT once they have obtained an intervention order.
Landlords must ensure they have the right insurance in place in the event that a claim must be lodged. Correct information when claiming in such a situation is vital so it is always best to refer matters to VCAT or Consumer Affairs as information on how to best protect the tenant is crucial to ensure their safety.
We’ve come across this situation and it’s not an easy thing to deal with. We’ve managed to guide all the parties concerned – landlords and tenants – through the process with ease but we would like to highlight the importance of thinking that.
“It won’t happen to you” as a landlord; this situation is more common than you’d think. We suggest to always act with compassion when dealing with a victim’s tenancy rights and to act swiftly.
Read up on all the necessary legislation, contact your insurance provider, and adjust premiums to cover for incidents relating to family and domestic violence such as rent default and malicious property damage.
More information can be found on the VCAT or Consumer Affairs Victoria websites.
Category: Property Investment
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