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“What do I need to do if domestic violence occurs in my rental property?” Tenant, NSW

Guest post by NSW Fair Trading

If there is violence in your home – no matter whether you rent or own – contact the police or advice service. You can also take steps under the tenancy agreement to improve your safety.

Changing the locks at your rental

“If you obtain an Apprehended Violence Order (AVO) which prohibits a person from accessing the rented premises where you were both living, you can immediately change the locks,” NSW Fair Trading said. “This applies if the AVO is a provisional, interim or final order.”

“You do not need the landlord’s or agent’s consent to change the locks as you would normally do. However, you must give them a key for the new lock within seven days unless they agree not to have a key.”

“The cost of changing the locks is your responsibility. If you do give a key to the landlord or agent, they cannot pass it on to the person who has been excluded from the property.”

“If the excluded person is named on the tenancy agreement as a tenant, your action in changing the locks does not end their tenancy or make you a tenant instead. All it does is prevent them from using their keys to enter the property while the AVO remains in force.”

Making changes to your tenancy agreement

If the person excluded from your rental property was named a tenant on the agreement, a final AVO made by a magistrate terminates that person’s tenancy, NSW Fair Trading said.

“If you were named on the agreement as a co-tenant, the tenancy transfers to your name. There is no need for you to sign a new agreement or do anything else. Any share of the bond owing to the excluded person does not have to be paid back until you vacate.”

“If your name is not on the agreement, you can ask the landlord or agent to have the agreement put into your name. If they refuse, you can apply to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal for an order to do this.”

“If you are an occupant of social housing premises (e.g. Housing NSW), the Tribunal can only make such an order if you meet any eligibility requirements. Contact the social housing provider to find out what you can do.”

Ending your lease early

Tenants cannot usually break a fixed term agreement early without paying the penalty or compensation. However, suppose you are a tenant and obtain a final AVO that prohibits a co-tenant or occupant from accessing the premises. In that case, you have the option to end the lease early without having to compensate the landlord.

“This may be helpful if you cannot afford the rent on your own,” NSW Fair Trading said. “You must give the landlord or agent 14 days notice in writing of your intention to leave.”

Updating or removing a tenancy database listing

If you are listed on a tenancy database due to damage to the property caused by a co-tenant or occupant during an incident of domestic violence, there are steps you can take.

You can ask for the information about you to be removed or changed, and you can apply to the Tribunal for orders.

If you or someone you know is experiencing violence and needs help or support, please contact one of these support hotline numbers.

NSW Fair Trading
NSW Fair Trading

NSW Fair Trading is part of the Department of Customer Service, whose role is to make doing business in New South Wales simple, accessible and fair for employees, consumers and industry while providing the best value for the government. NSW Fair Trading provides information for tenants, landlords, and agents on renting, including starting and ending a tenancy, agricultural tenancies, rental bonds online, resolving rental problems, and changes to residential tenancy laws.