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

This update comes from Fair Trading NSW.

If there is violence in your rented home you should contact the police or an advice service. There are also steps you can take 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,” Fair Trading NSW 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 7 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 as a tenant on the agreement, a final AVO made by a magistrate terminates that person’s tenancy, Fair Trading NSW said.

“If you were named on the agreement as a co-tenant, the tenancy simply 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 (eg. 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 a penalty or compensation. However, if you are a tenant and you obtain a final AVO which prohibits a co-tenant or occupant from accessing the premises, 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,” Fair Trading NSW 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 need help or support, please contact one of the support hotline numbers here.

Fair Trading NSW
13 32 20

NSW Fair Trading safeguards the rights of all consumers and advises business and traders on fair and ethical practice.