Weekend Courier - - Street Watch -

LAWS to help ten­ants ex­pe­ri­enc­ing fam­ily vi­o­lence are one step closer with a Bill in­tro­duced to Par­lia­ment this month.

The Res­i­den­tial Te­nan­cies Leg­is­la­tion (Fam­ily Vi­o­lence) Amend­ment Bill pro­poses changes to ten­ancy laws to give peo­ple af­fected by fam­ily and do­mes­tic vi­o­lence new choices and op­tions to:

End a ten­ancy di­rectly with a land­lord/ lessor or prop­erty man­ager by pro­vid­ing ev­i­dence, such as a Fam­ily Vi­o­lence Res­train­ing Order or a form signed by an in­de­pen­dent third party such as a po­lice of­fi­cer, doc­tor, so­cial worker or psy­chol­o­gist;

Stay in the rental home by ap­ply­ing to the Mag­is­trates Court to have a per­pe­tra­tor re­moved from a lease (cur­rently there is no av­enue to remove the per­pe­tra­tor from the ten­ancy);

Deal with dis­putes around prop­erty dam­age, un­paid rent and bond dis­burse­ment to avoid fi­nan­cial bur­den when leav­ing a ten­ancy;

Change locks, with­out a land­lord’s per­mis­sion, to pre­vent a per­pe­tra­tor re­gain­ing ac­cess, as long as a copy of the keys is given to the land­lord;

Im­prove se­cu­rity at the rental home at their own cost, for ex­am­ple in­stalling CCTV; and

Have their name re­moved from a ten­ancy data­base if the rea­son for the black­list­ing was caused by fam­ily and do­mes­tic vi­o­lence. This is so they are not ex­cluded from the rental mar­ket­place in fu­ture.

Com­mis­sioner for Con­sumer Pro­tec­tion David Hill­yard said hous­ing un­cer­tainty could force peo­ple to stay in abu­sive re­la­tion­ships.

“At the mo­ment, some­one leav­ing a rental prop­erty at short no­tice be­cause of fam­ily vi­o­lence must pay rent un­til a new ten­ant is found or the agree­ment ex­pires,” he said.

“The cost of break­ing a lease of­ten re­sults in fam­ily and do­mes­tic vi­o­lence vic­tims, in­clud­ing chil­dren, ei­ther stay­ing in a vi­o­lent home or be­ing home­less un­til the pre­vi­ous ten­ancy ends.

“In fact, fam­ily and do­mes­tic vi­o­lence is the rea­son for about 40 per cent of home­less­ness.”

Mr Hill­yard said it was to be ex­pected that in­vest­ment prop­erty own­ers would have con­cerns about the changes and what the cost would be to them, but they had a po­ten­tially life-sav­ing role in this space.

“In some in­stances it might cost a few weeks rent while a prop­erty is va­cant and re-ad­ver­tised but we need to bal­ance this with the con­cept that the fam­ily vi­o­lence vic­tims will be safe from fear, in­jury or even death,” he said.

Keep up-to-date with the progress of the bill at www.dmirs.wa. fam­i­lyvi­o­lence.

David Hill­yard

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