Leaving your lease due to Domestic & Family Violence

Each state and territory has different regulations on leaving a lease early due to Domestic & Family Violence.

Queensland

Under new Qld regulations, survivors of Domestic & Family Violence can leave a lease with only 7 days’ notice.

You can find the latest news on these tenancy rules HERE at the Residential Tenancies Authority and also a video explaining the regulations made in conjunction between the RTA and Q Shelter.

Here are links to the forms you’ll need to leave your lease:

DFV Notice Ending Tenancy

This is the form that tenants experiencing DFV should use to end their tenancy

DFV Report

This report should be filled out and supplied along with the above Notice Ending Tenancy to provide the evidence needed to ensure a smooth process to ending your tenancy.

New South Wales

In NSW survivors of domestic & family violence can end their tenancy immediately due to several circumstances of domestic violence. These reasons are listed HERE on the NSW Fair Trading website

You will have to give your landlord or their agent (usually your property manager) a domestic violence termination notice and attach one of the following permitted forms of evidence:

  • certificate of conviction for the domestic violence offence
  • family law injunction
  • provisional, interim or final Domestic Violence Order
  • declaration made by a competent person in the prescribed form.

If you are a co-tenant, you will have to give a domestic violence termination notice to every other co-tenant.

These termination notices DO NOT have to be given in person.

NSW Fair Trading’s sample termination notice from a tenant to landlord or agent can be downloaded HERE

NSW Fair Trading’s sample termination notice from a tenant to a co-tenant can be downloaded HERE

 

Further information on ending your tenancy due to domestic & family violence can be found HERE at the Tenants’ Union of NSW

Victoria

Victoria introduced new rental laws on 29 March 2021.

The new laws include major changes to support and protect people experiencing domestic and family violence. For a full explanation of the new laws and how they can help you if you’re a survivor of DFV in rental accommodation, see the Consumer Affairs Victoria website.

But the new laws allow you to apply to VCAT – the Victorian Civil & Administrative Council –  to change your rental agreement so that you or your children can be safe. You can ask them to do this even if your name is not currently on the rental agreement. You can also apply on behalf of any children you live with who are experiencing family violence if you are their parent or guardian.

You can ask for VCAT to give you an order so that your landlord:

  • Gives you a new rental agreement in your name without the person who has been violent towards you, even if your name isn’t on the current agreement
  • Lets you leave the property before the rental agreement ends without having to pay for breaking the lease

The new laws also mean VCAT must hear all applications to remove family violence perpetrators or allow survivors to leave the rented premises within 3 days of the application.

Read more about the VCAT process HERE on their website.

Further information on ending or changing your tenancy in Victoria due to domestic & family violence can be found HERE at Tenants Victoria.

South Australia

Survivors of domestic and family violence in SA can apply to the South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (SACAT) to:

Stay at the rented home and have the perpetrator leave

Leave the rented home and be removed from the rental agreement

Terminate the tenancy

Stop a landlord from listing your details on a Residential Tenancy Database (tenant ‘blacklist’) for damage caused by the perpetrator

Determine how the bond will be refunded.

Read more on how the tribunal process works HERE on the SA Gov website.

Further information on ending your tenancy in SA due to domestic & family violence can be found HERE at RentRight SA.

Western Australia

In 2019 new laws came into effect that gives tenants experiencing DFV more options and better protection to be safe. You can find full details HERE on the Safe Tenancy WA website. But your options are:
GO – leave a tenancy agreement without going to court and with as little as seven (7) days’ notice (you can leave right away for safety but will need to pay rent until the end of the notice period)
STAY – apply to court to have a perpetrator’s name removed from a lease
Make a rental home safer through lock changes or security upgrades
Sort out disputes about property damage, unpaid rent or bonds
Seek removal from, or avoid being listed on, a tenancy database if the listing was because of DFV

 

You’ll need to give your landlord or your property manager a domestic violence termination notice and attach one of the following permitted forms of evidence:

1. A Domestic Violence Order (includes Family Violence Restraining Order)
2. A family court injunction or an application for a family court injunction
3. A copy of a prosecution notice or an indictment detailing a charge relating to family violence having been committed against you or your dependant
4. An official Consumer Protection Family violence report – Evidence form signed by a designated professional who can be:
– a doctor
– a psychologist
– a social worker
– the person in charge of a women’s refuge
– a police officer
– a child protection worker
– a family support worker
– a person in charge of an Aboriginal health, welfare or legal organisation.

A ‘Notice of termination’ on the grounds of family or domestic violence for a residential tenancy agreement (for residential properties) can be downloaded HERE.

A ‘Notice of termination’ on the grounds of family or domestic violence for a residential park agreement (for residential parks on-site homes) can be downloaded HERE.

Further information on ending or changing your tenancy in WA due to domestic & family violence can be found HERE at Tenancy WA.

Tasmania

If you live in Tasmania and are a tenant suffering domestic and family violence, you can apply to the Magistrates Court and have three options available to you:

Apply for a Family Violence Order (FVO) against the perpetrator and have them taken off the release and make a new lease just in your name. But remember this will mean you are fully responsible for all rent. The new lease will continue on the same terms and conditions as the old lease

Terminate your lease agreement – the lease agreement ends between you, the perpetrator and landlord

Allow you to be taken off the lease agreement – the lease agreement continues solely between the perpetrator and landlord

 

Further information on ending or changing your tenancy in Tasmania due to domestic & family violence can be found HERE at Tenants’ Union of Tasmania.

Northern Territory

Survivors of domestic and family violence in the NT can apply to the Magistrates Court for a Domestic Violence Order (DVO).

The court can also make a Premises Access Order which will make the perpetrator leave the premises you live in or not enter the premises you live in (or only enter in certain situations)
In some situations, the court can make an order ending the tenancy agreement and create a new tenancy agreement
If you and the perpetrator are both named on the lease, you can apply to the court to terminate the agreement and create a new tenancy agreement naming you or the perpetrator as the sole tenant

Further information on ending or changing your tenancy in NT due to domestic & family violence can be found HERE at Darwin Community Legal Service.

Australian Capital Territory

Survivors of domestic and family violence in the ACT firstly need to apply to the ACT Magistrates Court to become a protected person under a domestic violence order.

Once you have this you can apply to the ACT Civil & Administrative Tribunal (ACAT) to make orders to:

  • End an existing tenancy agreement, meaning the protected person can leave the tenancy
  • End an existing tenancy agreement then require a lessor to enter into a new tenancy agreement with the protected person, meaning the protected person can stay at the rented premises

Read more on the process HERE on the ACAT website.

Frequently Asked Questions

Survivors

No.

While it is preferable for applicants to inspect the property before accepting it, it’s not required.

Property Managers should understand that survivors fleeing domestic and family violence often can’t inspect properties as their partner will often be controlling what they can do and what time they have for themselves – often none.

On your application form or online application just fill in that you are happy to take the property without viewing it. This will save you precious time and resources.

Your Property Manager may also be able to help you find safe ways to look at properties, perhaps through a safe space in their office where you can view available properties on their computer for security. Always remember to use private modes whenever you’re searching for properties) or any DFV related information) from your own devices.

And always talk to your Property Manager, if you can safely, to explain your situation so they can do their best to help you.

For more tips and help on finding a safe rental home as quick and simple as possible CLICK HERE to read our post –  Moving into Safe Housing – the Vital First Step.

It is challenging for anyone without a rental history to apply for a rental property – but not impossible. In fact, many agents will consider someone for a property without rental history, as long as they match other criteria such as affordability and suitability for the property.

Our advice is to be totally open and honest with the agent about why you need to move. This will explain the urgency of your application and most agents should accommodate you by fast-tracking your application. Even if you are not approved, at least you won’t waste valuable time in waiting for an answer.

The prevalence of DFV is starting to come out of the shadows, and many agents and landlords are becoming aware of the need for survivors to find a safe and permanent place to live. You may be pleasantly surprised that there are agents out there who would love to assist you – you just need to ask.

It’s a sad fact that survivors of DFV can still be in danger of further violence even when they leave a violent home.

Property owners have an obligation to allow you to feel safe and secure in your new rental property so firstly take to your property manager to ensure the owner has made the property as secure as required by law. But there are also many things you’re permitted to do as a DFV survivor. Here are some examples that you can do (at your own cost), provided you inform your property manger:

  • Change the locks at your property, as long as you provide a set of keys to your property manager
  • Install external security cameras and other security devices
  • Install improved external lighting, including sensor lights
  • Cut back bushes and other vegetation around the house to allow a clear view of visitors

We know money is often tight in your situation, so financial assistance for safety upgrades is available from Centre Against Domestic Abuse.

Tenancy legislation in QLD allows survivors of Domestic and Family Violence to leave a lease with only 7 day’s notice. All you’ll need is to provide evidence of DFV with a DFV Report.

If you’re the sole tenant on the lease, you can end your agreement with 7 days’ notice yourself, if you supply this report.

If you’re a co-tenant, you can also apply to leave the tenancy with 7 days’ notice showing the same evidence. In this case, the tenancy will continue with your co-tenant taking over the lease. You can also apply to have your portion of the Bond money refunded. This should be discussed with your property manager who can facilitate this process. If your co-tenant can no longer maintain the lease on their own, that is not your concern or responsibility.

This has dramatically simplified the normal process of having your name taken off a joint lease as previously everyone on the lease had to sign paperwork – something that’s impossible when there’s DFV in the home.

To see what the rules are in your state and the forms you’ll need to complete to leave a tenancy due to DFV click HERE.

If you’re NOT named on the lease, in QLD you’re what’s called an ‘Approved Occupant’ and as such, you have no responsibility towards the lease agreement.

This means that you can leave at any time.

It’s still a good idea to contact your property manager anyway and advise them, in confidence, what has happened.  They can put notes in your file and ensure no personal information is inadvertently handed over to the leaseholder.

Firstly, you need to remember that your landlord – or even your agent – may not be aware of the current laws surrounding ending leases due to Domestic and Family Violence. That’s why it’s important to know your rights in the state you are in.

If the law states that you are able to exit your lease, make sure you provide the correct documentation and move forward with your plans. Whether the agent/landlord agrees or not, is not relevant. If they wish to dispute your request, they will need to lodge a dispute resolution with the appropriate body (In Queensland it will be the RTA). This will enable all parties to discuss the issue, and the agent/landlord will be advised on what their responsibilities are. In the most extreme case, the landlord/agent may choose to take the matter to tribunal.

The important thing for you to understand is that all the above can take place AFTER you leave the property. If you feel unsafe and choose to leave, get in touch with the relevant community support and do what is best for you and your family.  As long as you are aware of your responsibilities, and you keep records of your actions, your rights will be protected.

In QLD in order to end your lease due to DFV with only 7 days’ notice, you need to provide evidence. This may include a report from your doctor, caseworker, or police.

The Residential Tenancies Authority has a Pro-forma DFV REPORT that you can use and give the person signing it for you as an authorised professional.

You’re not obligated to leave this report or even copies of it or any documentation with your property manager; however, they must be able to sight it as verification. This is important for your safety so make sure you keep all copies.

The more proof you can provide to your agent, the easier it will be for them to bring the matter to the property owner and get the process started.

To see what the rules are in your state and the forms you’ll need to complete to leave a tenancy due to DFV click HERE.

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