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Domestic Violence and Residential Tenancies (Vic)

Updated on Jan 12, 2023 4 min read 483 views Copy Link

Fernanda Dahlstrom

Published in Oct 21, 2022 Updated on Jan 12, 2023 4 min read 483 views

Domestic Violence and Residential Tenancies (Vic)

In Victoria, there are legislative provisions to protect a tenant who experiences domestic violence. When this happens in Victoria, an application can be made to VCAT under the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 to end the existing tenancy and commence a new one. The Act also contains other provisions for dealing with domestic violence in the context of a residential tenancy. This page deals with domestic violence and tenancies in Victoria.

Ending a tenancy because of domestic violence

Unfortunately, Victorian laws do not offer as much protection for the rights of tenants who are victims of domestic violence as some other states do. However, there are some steps you can take to end a tenancy on the basis of domestic violence in Victoria.

Talk to your landlord

If you are experiencing domestic violence and want to terminate your lease as a result, your first step should be to talk to your landlord or agent about the situation. They may be agreeable to ending the lease early.

If you are unable to resolve the situation by talking to your landlord or agent, you should make an application to VCAT to termination the rental agreement.  

Apply to VCAT

Under section 91V of the Residential Tenancies Act, a person can apply to VCAT for an order terminating a rental agreement if they have been subjected to domestic violence by another party to the rental agreement or if they are a protected person in an intervention order against another party to the rental agreement.

A person can also seek an order under this section if they are not a party to the rental agreement but have been living in the property and have been subjected to domestic violence by a person who is a party to the rental agreement or are a protected person in an intervention order against a party to the rental agreement.

A person seeking an order under this section may seek an order that the rental provider terminate the existing rental agreement and enter into a rental agreement with the person.

Excluding a person from the property

If you have been subjected to domestic violence by another person, you may have an intervention order or family violence safety notice that prohibits the other person from contacting you or attending your home.

You are also allowed to change the locks on the property provided a key to the new lock to the landlord or agent together with a copy of the court order or family violence safety notice (section 70A, Residential Tenancies Act).

Breaches caused by domestic violence

If you have been served with a notice to vacate a property because of an act or breach that was the result of domestic violence, you may apply to VCAT to challenge the notice. This must be done within 30 days of the notice being given (Section 206AZU, Residential Tenancies Act).

The tribunal may find that the notice is invalid if satisfied that the applicant has been subjected to family violence and that the act or breach was caused by an act done by the perpetrator of the violence. Examples of this are property damage caused by an act of domestic violence or failing to pay rent on time because of domestic violence.

Can a landlord end a tenancy because of domestic violence?

A landlord or agent cannot end a tenancy because you have experienced domestic violence.

If domestic violence has caused damage to the property, this will need to be repaired. If an application to VCAT is being made to end the tenancy and start a new one, VCAT can also be asked to make orders as to who must pay for the repairs to the property.

If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Go To Court Lawyers.

Published in

Oct 21, 2022

Fernanda Dahlstrom

Content Editor

Fernanda Dahlstrom has a Bachelor of Laws from Latrobe University, a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice from the College of Law, a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Melbourne and a Master of Arts (Writing and Literature) from Deakin University. Fernanda practised law for eight years, working in criminal defence, child protection and domestic violence law in the Northern Territory. She also practised in family law after moving to Brisbane in 2016.
Fernanda Dahlstrom

Fernanda Dahlstrom

Content Editor

Fernanda Dahlstrom has a Bachelor of Laws from Latrobe University, a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice from the College of Law, a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Melbourne and a Master of Arts (Writing and Literature) from Deakin University. Fernanda practised law for eight years, working in criminal defence, child protection and domestic violence law in the Northern Territory. She also practised in family law after moving to Brisbane in 2016.

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