Long-awaited tenancy reforms designed to improve protection for victims of domestic violence living in a rented properties, are only weeks away from coming into effect.
Integral to the new laws is the allowance for tenants to end their tenancy immediately and without penalty should they need to leave due to domestic violence.
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With the new laws set to start on February 28, the NSW Department of Fair Trading is holding a free webinar on the January 30 for tenants, real estate agents and self-managing landlords.
The webinar will provide details of the domestic violence reforms as they relate to the Residential Tenancies Amendment (Circumstances of Domestic Violence) Regulation 2018. You can register here. Another free webinar will also be held in February.
The domestic violence reforms represent some of the most significant changes to NSW tenancy laws for victims and survivors of domestic violence living in a rented property, and are part of a package of tenancy amendments following the statutory review of the Residential Tenancies Act 2010.
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From February 28, a tenant will be able to end their tenancy immediately and without penalty if they or their dependent child or children are in circumstances of domestic violence.
The tenant will have to provide their landlord or agent with a domestic violence termination notice and attach one of the permitted forms of evidence. Permitted forms include a certificate of conviction for the domestic violence offence; family law injunction; provisional, interim or final Domestic Violence Order; or a declaration made by a medical practitioner in the prescribed form. A medical practitioner includes a General Practitioner (GP), physicians (doctors in a hospital) and all medical specialists (including surgeons, psychiatrists and paediatricians). A full list is available on the Medical Board of Australia’s website.
Any co-tenants must also be provided with a copy of the termination notice.
A landlord or any remaining co-tenants will be able to apply to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal if they wish to dispute the validity of a domestic violence termination notice.
Certain other criteria, as set out in the prescribed form, must also be met. The law prevents landlords from penalising victims for ending their tenancy early
For example, a victim will not need to pay a break fee, loss of rent, advertising and a re-letting fee or an occupation fee for abandoned goods.
A raft of measures will also be implemented to protect victims’ privacy, and ensure that their ability to secure a rental property in the future is not negatively impacted by a domestic violence termination.
Landlords and their agents will be prohibited from listing a tenant on a tenancy database if they ended a tenancy in circumstances of domestic violence, and evidence that a tenant or their dependent child is in circumstances of domestic violence only needs to be given to the landlord or their agent and not to any remaining co-tenants.
The laws make other allowances to remaining co-tenants and also address issues relating to property damage.
For more information about the amendment see here.
NSW Fair Trading also has a dedicated page that addresses issues relating to domestic violence in a rented property.