A true story from one of our Alliance property management agencies.
Justine (not her real name) was a previous tenant of a property management agency that supports SafeHome Alliance. Her partner was becoming increasingly controlling, and she told him she wanted to separate.
They were renting, and Justine started looking for another place for her and her three kids. The next 2 ½ weeks became a nightmare for her. He emptied their bank accounts, took her phone, wallet, and went to her workplace, causing trouble. He kept attacking her verbally and telling her to leave, yet made it impossible for her to find anywhere to go.
She decided she just needed to get out. When he was at work, she packed a few belongings, and she and the kids left. They stayed with friends and contacted DV Connect to see if they could help her find somewhere to live. Whilst DV Connect worked tirelessly to find them a home, at the time, the only one available was in Toowoomba, a long way from where they were living, and Justine felt she couldn’t pull her kids out of school and away from friends and add to the trauma they were suffering.
So, she received an emergency payout from Centrelink of $300 for a deposit on a motel room and continued desperately searching for a rental property. But anything that became available was snapped up immediately.
That’s when she contacted the previous property manager and explained her situation. Because she’d been a fantastic previous tenant, they immediately said they’d welcome her back. Through the DFV education and awareness training they’d received through SafeHome Alliance, they were particularly sensitive to her situation and the extra issues she was facing finding a rental property as a survivor.
They quickly found three suitable properties and the leasing consultant suggested she apply for all three to give her a better chance of securing one. Justine was quickly approved for a property that was perfect for her and her kids.
In her own words she explains how the agency’s processes and awareness of DFV helped a survivor like herself:
“Their online application form was really easy to fill out and took only a couple of days to process. In the meantime, they made special times for me to inspect the properties outside normal hours. When they called me to tell me the good news that I was approved for a duplex and could move in a few days, I cried with happiness.” Justine
In helping Justine find a new place to live, the property manager also found out that she was having issues with her previous property management agency. She was still on the lease with her ex and unable to get her name off it. Her new property manager advised that she can get out of a lease due to DFV with 7 days’ notice (Justine lives in QLD). Justine said she was aware of this, but her former property manager said that the ‘landlord was not willing to accept the offer’ because that would leave the ex on the lease on his own and unable to pay the rent, so he would need to break the lease.
Justine said she needed to get evidence to activate the 7-day notice of intention to leave for DFV reason and was waiting on DV Connect, which is unfortunately inundated with cases, to send her a report. The new property manager advised her all she needed to do was to fill out a DFV Report (provided by the Residential Tenancies Authority), which can be signed by her doctor, counsellor, or other such officer handling her case. This will provide sufficient evidence for her to legally exit her lease in 7 days.
Our Alliance partner, the new property management agency, believes the former property manager is being obstructive. They should be advising the landlord to allow the tenant to be removed from the lease and work within the spirit of the new regulations. They are obviously intended to make it easier for DFV victims to leave a dangerous situation and not be financially punished. It’s also better in the long term for owners for their property manager to help DFV survivors break leases if they need to and find replacement tenants to take over the lease.