Couples who live together often jointly sign a rental agreement (lease) to house themselves and their family. Whether or not a couple are both listed on a lease or just one member of the couple is, domestic violence can create an unacceptable living situation and create challenges for victim-survivors in dealing with their landlord. In response, each state and territory have a provision in their Rental and Tenancy law to help you deal with your situation.
Rent and tenancy laws are governed by individual states and territories in Australia. The degree to which these laws can support you may also be dependent on:
- The type of leasing agreement you have signed – fixed term (eg. 12 months) or periodic (ongoing)
- Whether you want to leave or you want the perpetrator to
- If you have documented evidence of the abuse, like an intervention or restraining order or AVO.
- If you have an AVO/ DVO, the type that you have.
Below are examples of provisions that may be included in Rental and Tenancy laws to protect you, depending on where you live:
- Breaking the lease before the end of the lease period. You will need to provide evidence. The acceptable evidence will vary by state.
- If you prematurely break your lease, this will not impact your ability to rent again in the future
- What can be done to have the goods you left at the premises returned to you, safely
- Receiving your half of the bond that you paid when you moved in
- Having your new rental address withheld from the perpetrator
- Requesting to have the perpetrator removed from the lease
- Making the home safer by changing the lock and providing added security, should you wish to stay and have the perpetrator leave
- Dealing with property damage and unpaid rent.
Some states also have a rapid rehousing policy to help those leaving their home. Check your state’s Rent and Tenancy Act to find out which of the laws are there to support you during this difficult time.
Should you need to leave your home and cannot do so with your pet, some animal support organisations provide emergency shelter. These services are also managed on a state by state basis.
Be prepared for significant upfront costs when signing a rental agreement. To rent a property, you are required to pay a security bond which is a payment made in advance to the landlord to cover any costs for which you, the tenant, may be liable at the end of the tenancy, such as damage to the property, outstanding utility charges or unpaid rent. In addition, you are required to pay two weeks’ rent at the same time you pay your security bond. All up, you need to have six weeks’ worth of rent.
Depending on your situation, find out if the new rental agreements allow pets. In some instances, you made be required to pay a pet bond.
To assist you with managing rental costs, contact Centrelink to find out if you may be eligible for Rental Assistance.Explore the Directory to find info in your state or territory. Find out more about Centrelink Rent Assistance.