Family Violence Bill champions landlords, tenants

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The Residential Tenancies Act (Family Violence) Amendment Bill 2018, which was recently passed, will not only allow tenants who are victims of family violence to terminate their lease early but will also protect the rights of property owners by ensuring the new legislation could not be used without just cause.

This bill amends the Residential Tenancies Act 1987 and the Residential Parks (Long-stay Tenants) Act 2006 to provide for termination of tenants' interests on the grounds of family violence, and for related matters.

The Real Estate Institute of Western Australia (REIWA) welcomes the move, noting the importance of the preventative measures that were in place to stop the legislation from being misused.

“REIWA fully supports the WA government’s decision to amend the act. Family violence is a growing issue in our community and we all have a responsibility to help eradicate it and ensure measures are put in place to assist victims instead of punish them. However, it was also important to protect the rights of property owners by ensuring the new legislation could not be used without just cause," said REIWA President Damian Collins.

REIWA said that the new legislation has a legally binding declaration. Should there be cases where there has been no criminal charges filed, the victim will sign a declaration to reaffirm their claims. Hence, going to court can be left out of process.

In addition, the declaration carries significant penalties should the claimant be found to be making false statements.

“This will act as a hefty deterrent against the misuse of this legislation, which is designed to help only genuine victims of family violence. REIWA welcomes this outcome as an important step in the process towards reducing the burdens of the residential tenancy system on victims of family violence while also protecting the rights of property owners,” Collins said.

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