A state government is pursuing changes to tenancy laws so victims of domestic violence can terminate leases without financial penalty.
South Australia's Minister for the Status of Women and Minister for Business Services and Consumers, Gail Gago, said the South Australian cabinet has approved the drafting of domestic violence reforms to the Residential Tenancies Act.
“I want to ensure victims are not subject to ongoing, undue hardship, whether financially or by having to deal with the perpetrator on matters such as lease arrangements and finalising bond,” Ms Gago said.
She said the government is seeking to strengthen the level of protection afforded to victims of domestic violence in the tenancy sector.
“One in six Australian women has experienced physical or sexual assault at the hand of a current or former partner.
“For more than 60 per cent of women who had experienced physical assault by a male perpetrator, the most recent incident was in their home.”
Ms Gagos said that currently, victims who leave a property can’t have their name removed from a joint lease without the consent of the other party.
The proposed amendments will also:
- Protect victims of domestic violence from being required to pay for damage caused to the property by the perpetrator.
- Stop a tenant’s personal information being listed on a residential tenancy database where it is determined domestic violence has occurred.
- Allow the Residential Tenancies Tribunal to effectively split the bond and to make an order for compensation against a single tenant in a co-tenancy.
- Empower the tribunal to terminate a tenancy and, taking into account a submission by the landlord, make a new tenancy agreement.
“Obviously we must work closely with the industry and ensure landlords [get their] rights, too,” Ms Gago said.
“We want to avoid situations where people can make false claims to avoid a rental agreement.”
[Related: ‘Common sense’ to align state property laws]