It is a sad reality that some people have faced and even more so in the past few years. In 2016-17 alone 40 per cent of people seeking homelessness were subject to Domestic or Family Violence. This shocking statistic called on action to allow victims to terminate a Lease Agreement early.
Previously the tenancy agreement or Act did not recognise domestic violence or abuse as an early termination release reason. In the current moment if a tenant wishes to terminate her/his agreement they are liable for rent until the end of the fixed term or until a suitable tenant is found to take over the lease agreement. This often left victims of domestic violence feeling trapped and unable to move beyond their home.
In December the amendments to the Residential Tenancies Act 1987 and the Residential Parks (Long Stay Tenants) Act 2006. It allows tenants who are suffering from such circumstances to:
- Deal directly with the Landlord or Property Manager without the perpetrator’s consent;
- Terminate the Tenancy Agreement by providing evidence of domestic violence – which includes a restraining order or letter from a medical professional;
- Apply to the Court to have the Perpetrator’s name removed from the Tenancy Agreement;
- Change the Locks without permission from the Landlord;
- Be alleviated of financial burden due to any property damage, unpaid rent or bind issues arising out of domestic violence.
The new amendments are aimed at reducing the percentage of homelessness and hopes to open up the line of communication when it comes to domestic violence. We all deserve a good, safe home and when things turn a different direction there is now a process to deal with it.
As a property manager we see the benefit in this as our goal is always to have a clear cut communication and open the channel between tenant and landlord.