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 tenants deal with this situation.
Rent and tenancy laws are governed by individual states and territories in Australia. The degree to which these laws can support a person experiencing domestic and family violence may also be dependent on:
- The type of leasing agreement they have signed – fixed term (eg. 12 months) or periodic (ongoing)
- Whether they want to leave or they want the perpetrator to
- If they 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 people experiencing domestic violence, depending on where they live:
- Breaking the lease before the end of the lease period usually requires evidence. The acceptable evidence will vary by state.
- If a person does prematurely break their lease, this will not impact their ability to rent again in the future
- What can be done to have the goods left at the premises returned to a person, safely
- Receiving their half of the bond that they paid when they moved in
- Having their 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 a person wish to stay in the premises 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 out the relevant state’s Rent and Tenancy Act to find out which of the laws are applicable.
Should a person need to leave their home but cannot do so with their pet, some animal support organisations provide emergency shelter. These services are also managed on a state by state basis.
Renting a property involves significant upfront costs including a security bond which is a payment made in advance to the landlord to cover any costs for damage to the property, outstanding utility charges, or unpaid rent. All up, it usually costs six weeks’ worth of rent.
If a rental property allows animals, some landlords require an additional bond for pets.
People on some government payments may be eligible for rental assistance. Find out more from Centrelink.Explore the Directory to find info in your state or territory. Find out more about Centrelink Rent Assistance.