Breaking a lease on a rental property because of Domestic Violence

2019-05-15
Information on how to support someone suffering Domestic Violence or Intimate Partner Violence and living in rented accommodation. Information on how to support someone suffering Domestic Violence or Intimate Partner Violence and living in rented accommodation.

In 2019 new NSW Tenancy Laws supporting victims of domestic violence living in a rented property came into effect.

If you live in rented accommodation and have been affected by domestic and family violence, you need to know there are new Tenancy Laws to help protect the victims of domestic violence.

These new laws have implications for property managers, property renters and investment property owners alike.

Jump Ahead

New Law: A tenant can end their tenancy immediately - without penalty - if they or their dependent child is in circumstances of domestic violence

  • Victims of Domestic Violence cannot be penalised for ending their tenancy (regardless if its fixed term or periodic) early.
  • A tenant who ends their tenancy in circumstances of domestic violence is not liable to pay any compensation or additional money for the early termination (ie; lease break fees, reletting or occupation fees for abandoned property etc).

How to end a tenancy in circumstances of domestic violence

To end their tenancy due to domestic violence, the tenant will need to provide to the Landlord or their agent,

a completed Domestic Violence Termination Notice and one of the following forms acceptable forms of evidence

  • Certificate of Conviction
  • Family Law injunction
  • Provisional, Interim or Final Domestic Violence Order
  • Written Declaration made by a Medical Practitioner in the prescribed form
  • each co-tenant a domestic violence termination notice.

And if they have a co-tenant, provide each co-tenant with a Domestic Violence Termination Notice.

The termination notice must include a nominated termination date (and that can be the same day as when the notice is provided).

A Medical Practitioner can declare a tenant (or their dependent child) is a victim of domestic violence

  • This written declaration can be used as one of the acceptable forms of evidence of domestic violence needed to terminate a residential lease.
  • A medical practitioner includes a General Practitioner (GP), Physicians including Paediatricians, Psychiatrists and other specialists including Surgeons, Radiologists, Gynaecologist etc.

For more information on what’s required for a medical practitioner to make a declaration, you can read more here.

How to provide a Tenancy Termination Notice to the landlord, agent or their property manager

A termination notice must:

  • be in writing and properly addressed
  • be signed and dated by the party providing the notice
  • give the day on which the residential tenancy agreement is terminated and by when the tenant will need to vacate
  • where appropriate, give the grounds/reason for the notice.

You can write your own notice or use the sample DV Termination Notice provided by Fair Trading. See a PDF sample here.

Protecting the victim’s privacy and from future discrimination

The new laws are intended to protect the privacy of the victim and protect against any future discrimination, so they’re not hampered in returning to the rental market in the future by their past domestic violence termination.

  • Landlords and Agents are prohibited from listing a tenant on a tenancy database if they ended a tenancy in circumstances of domestic violence.
  • A person is prohibited from disclosing or using any information about a domestic violence termination notice (or the attached evidence) for any other purpose. This means the information cannot be used in a reference check by a property manager.
  • Disclosure can only be made if permitted or required by law and a person in possession of these documents must store and dispose of them securely.
  • The contents of a declaration made by a Medical Practitioner is not reviewable by the Rental Tribunal to ensure victims of domestic violence are not subject to cross-examination.

More information online

If you or someone you know needs support visit 1800respect.org.au for confidential information, counselling and support services.
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Drew Browne

Drew specialises in helping people protect and provide for what matters most in their lives. He's an award-winning writer, speaker, financial adviser and business strategy mentor. His company Sapience Financial and Investment Services is committed to using business solutions for good in the community, and in 2015 certified as a B Corp. In 2017 Drew was recognised in the inaugural Australian Westpac Businesses of Tomorrow national awards. Drew writes for successful Small Business Owners and Entrepreneurs at Smallville, his blogs can be read on Amazon.com and you can connect with him on LinkedIn.

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Drew Browne

Sapience Founder & Director.
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