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Following the push for tenancy reform in NSW back in October 2018, victims of domestic violence can now break a tenancy lease without incurring any penalties.
From 28 February, 2019, the changes to tenancy law, as referred to in Residential Tenancies Amendment (Review) Act 2018, are now enacted, which allows for tenants who are suffering domestic violence to be able to break a tenancy lease without incurring any financial penalty.
For a tenant to give a domestic violence termination notice and break a lease without penalty, there must be some proof that the tenant or co-tenant has a legal document detailing the domestic violence.
If landlords or co-tenants have questions regarding the validity of a domestic violence termination notice, they can apply to NCAT to dispute this.
Previously speaking to Smart Property Investment, Peter Koulizos, chairman of the Property Investment Professionals of Australia, said it was a good thing to allow for victims of domestic violence to be able to break a lease, but there should have been further provisions for perpetrators to be held responsible for their actions.
“There needs to be the opportunity for the investor to go for the person that caused the damage,” Mr Koulizos said at the time.
“Now that’s probably through some other court rather than the residential tenancies court – we understand that these things happen from time to time, but the wrong thing has been done by the person that caused the damage, so they need to be liable for the damage.”
However, Tim McKibbin, CEO of the Real Estate Institute of NSW, previously told Smart Property Investment that the onus of cost on property investors would not be appropriate in this instance.
“If somebody was an investor in one of the big companies, they own shares, and their dividend cheque came along and somebody turned up and said, ‘You’ve just got a $100 dividend, but I’m going to deduct from your dividend because there has been some domestic violence in your suburb,’ we would all say in those circumstances, ‘No, that's a ridiculous response’,” Mr McKibbin said.
“But in the residential environment, when we have an investor in this area, because of the nature – and I think that’s the key word – because of the nature of their investment, somehow we’ve arrived at the conclusion that they should bear the costs attaching to the circumstances of the domestic violence within their investment ... property.”