New residential tenancy laws to protect victims of domestic violence

Key Points
  • These new laws are designed to protect the victims of domestic violence who are living in a rented premises.
  • Landlords cannot seek any damages, charges or compensation for an early termination as a result of a properly served domestic violence termination notice.
New tenancy reforms have been introduced in NSW which aim to protect victims of domestic violence who are living in a residential tenancy premises. Effective from 28 February 2019, the new Laws allow for a tenant to terminate their tenancy without penalty and immediately if they or their dependents are subject to domestic violence.

Under the new legislative changes, a tenant who has terminated their tenancy due to domestic violence is not liable for damages, compensation or any other financial charges for the early termination.

To effectively terminate a lease, the tenant must serve upon the landlord a domestic violence termination notice along with one of the following documents:
  1. Certificate of conviction;
  2. Family law injunction;
  3. A Domestic Violence Order; and/or
  4. A declaration made by a medical practitioner in the prescribed form,
The Landlord or their Agent must also ensure that the privacy of the victim is protected as it is a requirement that the documents are highly confidential and not provided to anybody unless required to do so by law.

Either the landlord or the remaining tenants can seek a determination from the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) as to whether the domestic violence termination notice was provided correctly by the terminating tenant.

The remaining tenant may apply to NCAT to end their tenancy or (if they are not the alleged perpetrator of the domestic violence) they will be entitled to a 2 week period to only pay a portion of the rent and is not required to pay the terminating tenant’s rent portion of the rent.

Post by Anne Sandeman and Kurt Gallacher

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