In November 2015 new laws were passed in South Australia to provide protection against financial penalties for victims of domestic violence who are renting their homes.
The South Australian Government claims that these are the strongest protections in Australia for victims of domestic violence.
The changes to the laws enable victims of domestic violence to terminate leases on rental properties that they share with abusive partners without facing further financial penalty.
Previously a victim of domestic violence that was jointly listed on a tenancy agreement with their abusive partner could not take their name off the tenancy after leaving the property if their abusive partner did not consent. They were even liable for damage caused to the property by their abusive partner after they left.
The changes to the law include:
- Now prohibiting personal information of victims being listed on a Residential Tenancy database where there has been domestic violence.
- Allowing victims of domestic violence to either:
a) Continue the tenancy without the abuser;
b) Leave the tenancy and not be financially liable after leaving;
c) Terminate the tenancy altogether.
- Now the South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (SACAT) can determine that one of the co-tenants such as the abuser, is liable for compensation to the landlord rather than both of them.
Applications for “hardship” reasons are made through the SACAT.
As this is a very new process there may be ongoing announcements that further clarify the eligibility criteria and application procedure.
If you are a victim of domestic violence and wish to make an application regarding your residential tenancy, we suggest you contact SACAT on 1800 723 767.