DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AMENDMENTS: Bill Still Making Its Way Through Parliament

The Residential Tenancies Legislation Amendment (Family Violence) Bill 2018 is an important piece of legislation that is currently making its way through the West Australian Parliament. The Bill, which has the support of Tenancy WA, REIWA, Shelter WA, DMIRS, The Women’s Council for Domestic and Family Violence Services and a range of other organisations, will create a number of changes that apply to tenancies in situations of Family and Domestic Violence.

Subject to Parliamentary approval, these include:
• a new process to enable victims of FDV to terminate a tenancy, legally, directly with a landlord / lessor or property manager by providing required evidence, such as a Family Violence Restraining Order or a form signed by a medical professional, for example a doctor or psychologist, or signed by another independent third party such as a police officer or social worker;
• enabling FDV victims to remove a perpetrator from a tenancy agreement and stay in the rental home if they choose, through an application to the Magistrates Court;
• ways to deal with disputes around property damage, unpaid rent and bond disbursement to ensure the FDV victim is not facing financial burden when leaving a tenancy;
• allowing tenants affected by FDV to change locks without a landlord’s permission, to prevent a perpetrator regaining access, as long as a copy of the keys are given to the landlord;
• giving tenants affected by FDV the right to improve security at the rental home at their own cost, for example installing CCTV;
• a pathway for tenants who find themselves on a tenancy database to have their name removed from that blacklist if the reason for the listing was caused by FDV.

On 17 October 2018 the Legislative Council referred the Residential Tenancies Legislation Amendment (Family Violence) Bill 2018 to Committee for inquiry and report by 22 November 2018. Submissions were due by 31st October and Tenancy WA was pleased to make a submission on behalf of the Tenancy Network on the importance of the changes.

Tenancy WA looks forward to the Bill passing into law and is poised to roll out a training program in the changes for women’s refuge workers, tenant advocates and others who will either work with or be affected by these changes. We are hopeful that the Bill may pass into law in early 2019.

For more information on the Bill visit the information page on the DMIRS website .