Commissioner's Blog: Family violence prompts tenancy law review
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With Acting Commissioner for Consumer Protection, David Hillyard
Tenancy laws in WA are under review in a bid to support victims of family violence who live in rental homes. It’s your chance to have a say because community feedback is now invited.
An options paper has been released outlining proposed amendments to the Residential Tenancies Act that are designed to complement the Restraining Orders and Related Legislation Amendment (Family Violence) Bill 2016, which was introduced into Parliament in September this year.
Family violence is a significant issue affecting the WA community and the State Government is committed to taking decisive action to address this problem, improve the safety of victims and hold perpetrators of violence accountable.
The options paper is looking at the interaction between tenancy laws and family violence orders to determine necessary changes to better support victims of family violence when that abuse happens in a rental property.
If a victim or victims of family violence must leave their home, the ramifications are far ranging. There’s a risk of homelessness and having to move out can lead to loss of employment, disruption to education for children as well as impacts to physical and mental health.
The aim of the options canvassed in the paper is to support victims of family violence to remain in the home, wherever it is appropriate and safe to do so, rather than forcing them to leave. Fundamental to this aim is to ensure that the law and legal system in relation to family violence and residential tenancies work effectively together when they overlap. This means giving courts the power to make orders in respect of residential tenancy agreements, such as:
- removing the perpetrator or victim from an existing tenancy agreement while allowing the other party to continue;
- terminating an agreement in its entirety; or
- allocating liability for outstanding rent and damages.
It is important to ensure victims of violence in the home are supported and do not suffer further as a result of tenancy laws if they have to move out and break a lease or when damage is caused to the home by the perpetrator of the violence.
We urge members of the public and interested parties to read the options paper and provide feedback while changes to tenancy laws are being considered and before they are finalised.
The options paper can be downloaded from www.commerce.wa.gov.au/consultations. Submissions close at 5pm on Friday, 16 December 2016. Enquiries can be made by calling Consumer Protection on 1300 30 40 54 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
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