What you need to know about the new “Domestic Violence Tenancies” laws
In October last year the NSW Parliament passed the Residential Tenancies Amendment (Review) Bill 2018.
The amendments to the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 are designed to “increase protection and certainty for renters, while ensuring that landlords can protect their investment and effectively manage their properties” ~ Department Fair Trading.
Some of the key reforms are;
- The ability for tenants to make minor alterations to properties
- The introduction of a new minimum standard for properties
- The ability for tenants to get rectification orders from Fair Trading for repairs
- Restricting rent increases for periodic leases to once a yeae
- The ability for victims of domestic violence to break a lease without incurring a penalty
Stage one of the amendments, Domestic Violence Tenancies, has been announced to come into effect 28th February 2019, with the remaining changes to be released later in the year.
What are the new Domestic Violence Tenancy laws?
The new laws are designed to strengthen protection for tenants who fall victim to domestic violence.
These protections are as follows;
- Tenants can end a tenancy immediately without penalty if they (or their dependent child) is a victim of domestic violence.
To do so, tenants must provide appropriate documentation to the Landlord or Landlords Agent in the form of a “domestic violence termination notice” along with either a “Domestic Violence Order” (note that this is not an AVO), an approved “Medical Officer Certificate”, a family law injunction or a certificate of conviction for the DV offence.
The validity of such notices will be able to be disputed at NCAT.
- Tenants will not be able to be charged a break lease fee or an occupation fee for abandoned goods – only rent up until the end of occupation.
- Victims privacy is protected – it is not permitted to list a tenant on a tenancy database nor disclose that a domestic tenancy occurred to another person via a tenancy reference check. This is avoid discrimination and to protect the victims safety.
- Victims not liable for property damage – Victims & co-tenants (who are not the perpetrator) will not be liable for damage caused by a perpetrator as part of a DV incident. The perpetrator WILL be liable
- Rights of remaining co-tenants – a co-tenant may apply to Tribunal to end the tenancy. They are also only required to pay their share of rent for a 2 week period and NOT the victims share of the rent, unless they are the perpetrator in which case they must pay the full rental amount. Example: tenant 1 pays $300pw and co-tenant pays $200pw. Tenant 1 issues a DV termination notice and moves out – tenant 2 pays only $200pw rent for 2 weeks.
How should investors best prepare for these changes?
- Entrust your investment to a Property Manager who is well versed in current legislation.
At DiJones Investment Management we are continually updating and refining our skills & knowledge around legislation so that we can advise our Landlords on how to best navigate any potential scenario that may arise with their tenancy.
- Ensure you have up to date and adequate Landlord Insurance.
Landlord Insurance specialists have advised us that they are currently reviewing their policies around claims for loss of rent and damaged property arising from the new Domestic Violence Tenancy laws. Ask your DiJones Investment Manager if you are adequately protected.
How can I find out more?
Register for the Department Fair Trading Webinar (28th Feb at 10am) here >>
View the full legislation here >>
Contact your DiJones Investment Manager or,
our Head of Investment Management – Victoria Cavallo on (02) 8356 7878.