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Family and domestic violence (FDV) is an extremely serious issue in our community, so we need to make sure the right laws are in place to not only support victim-survivors, but to keep them and their children out of harm’s way.
An estimated 24,000 Western Australians sought help from specialist homelessness services last year, with 41 per cent needing these services because they were experiencing FDV.
Given we know many of these crimes are occurring in rental properties, the State Government has agreed to review our FDV tenancy laws to see if they need to be fine-tuned.
As part of this review, Consumer Protection has begun seeking feedback from the community on how effective the current laws have been and to assess the impact they have had on affected tenants and landlords.
The FDV tenancy laws under review came into effect on April 2019 and allow tenants fearing for their or their children’s safety to end a tenancy agreement early without the need to go to court. Instead, victim-survivors only need to fill out a form giving the landlord at least seven days’ notice that they wish to end the tenancy early and provide a family violence report as evidence.
In co-tenancies, victim-survivors have the option to apply to the court to have the perpetrator’s name removed from the lease so that they can remain in their rental home. Other reforms included the ability to change locks or upgrade security; prevent or remove tenancy database entries; and resolve any issues related to damage, unpaid rent or bonds.
This community consultation may reveal problems that we may not yet know about and will take into consideration the impact of COVID-19 and the ability of victim-survivors to find alternative accommodation with the current extremely low rental vacancy rate in WA.
The review will focus on whether the laws are working as intended to support affected renters and will also examine how landlords are impacted in areas such as recovering debts owed by tenants and making claims on insurance.
To view the consultation paper – or to take a short online survey – visit the Consumer Protection website before the Friday 16 December 2022 closing date. More information on the current laws is available at www.safetenancy.wa.gov.au
Commissioner for Consumer Protection