Tenancy WA is the community legal centre for tenants, and for the last four years has called for protection for victims of domestic violence victims in the Residential Tenancies Act.
“For some years now WA has been the only state without domestic violence protections in our rental laws. This means victims of family violence could not leave a tenancy on just terms, or create a safe tenancy by removing a perpetrator from a tenancy agreement, said Kate Davis, Principal Solicitor.
“We congratulate the government on the announcement today, which brings WA from the back of the pack, to set the standard with the best protections in the country.
“Domestic violence is the leading cause of homelessness in Australia, and we are confident that these provisions will help women and children experiencing domestic violence to avoid homelessness.”
“This new legislation will help women like our client, Sarah (not her real name).
“Sarah and her partner rented their home together. Sarah was hospitalised after he beat her, when she was pregnant. Sarah took the decision to leave the relationship and tried to negotiate with the real estate agent to terminate the tenancy, as it wasn’t safe for her to return there. The landlord didn’t agree to terminate the tenancy. Sarah left hospital and went to live with her family. The Landlord then pursued Sarah for the costs of the rent arrears and the damage he had caused at the house.
“Under these new laws, Sarah would have the option to terminate the tenancy with a notice form and a statutory declaration from her Doctor, so she would not have been liable for the ongoing rent, and the Landlord may have been able to take possession before the rent arrears built up and the worst of the damage occurred.
“These new laws will provide protections for victims of domestic violence, and will facilitate quick resolution for Landlords. We look forward to working with the government as the legislation is developed and implemented.
“This reform has been our number one law reform issue, which we have championed with submissions to the Law Reform Commission, submissions to the then Department of Commerce, and pre budget submissions to government with WACOSS and Shelter WA.
Media Contact: Kate Davis, Principal Solicitor, 6263 8560