Domestic violence reform for NSW rental laws

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Residential tenancy laws in New South Wales are set to be altered to provide greater protection to victims of domestic violence.

New South Wales Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation Victor Dominello yesterday announced proposed reforms to the state’s residential tenancy laws aimed at ensuring victims of domestic violence are not put at further risk of harm due to a rental agreement.

Under the proposed changes, domestic violence victims will be able to terminate residential tenancy agreements immediately by providing evidence of domestic violence through a provisional, interim or final AVO, or court order.

The proposals will also mean that victims of domestic violence cannot be held liable for property damaged or rental debt caused by a violent partner. Landlords, property managers and real estate agents would also be prohibited from placing victims on tenancy databases holding such information.

Dominello said the changes, which are expected to be introduced into Parliament during the first half of 2017, will fix what is currently an “unacceptable” situation.
“Currently victims of domestic violence on a fixed lease have to give 14 days’ notice to their landlord, with potential liabilities, and provide them with a final AVO which can take months to obtain. This is an unacceptable and often burdensome process for people living in dangerous situations,” he said.

“The new laws will provide victims with certainty that they won’t be penalised in future rental applications. They also include stronger safety measures as a provisional AVO can be obtained quickly without court hearings.”

Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Pru Goward also backed the reforms.

“Leaving a violent relationship can be one of the most challenging decisions anyone makes and we are getting rid of the red tape and streamlining the system to support domestic violence victims to leave,” Goward said.

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