Tenancy law changes inspire Aboriginal artist
A prominent Aboriginal artist has produced a painting to signify positive changes to WA tenancy laws, which will allow renters who’re experiencing family violence to end a lease quickly to leave for safety or have an alleged perpetrator removed from a tenancy agreement.
Under the Residential Tenancies Legislation Amendment (Family Violence) Bill 2018, which was passed in Parliament last night (19 February 2019), tenants facing family and domestic violence (FDV) can give 7 days’ notice and leave a rental home immediately by giving a termination notice and evidence of FDV to their landlord. Alternatively, tenants wishing to stay in a home can apply to the Court to have a family violence perpetrator removed from a lease.
Barbara Bynder’s commission titled ‘Freedom to Fly’ is being unveiled today (20 February 2019) at Derbarl Yerrigan Health Service Aborginal Corporation. Reprints will also be provided to some community legal centres as a visual reminder of the new legislation to help clients.
Commissioner for Consumer Protection David Hillyard said the piece aptly depicts how the tenancy law changes, due to come into effect in mid-April 2019, allow renters affected by FDV to choose whether to stay or go.
“Private or social housing tenants experiencing family violence have found themselves trapped in tenancy agreements or homeless because leaving at short notice means they owe a landlord money, face being taken to court and might not get their bond back. Changing WA tenancy laws to remove these barriers does, as Barbara’s painting suggests, give victims freedom to fly.”
Key changes to Western Australia’s tenancy and residential parks laws include:
- new processes to allow tenants facing FDV to terminate a tenancy quickly and legally;
- enabling tenants facing FDV to remove the perpetrator from a tenancy agreement;
- ways to deal with disputes around damage to property, rent arrears and bond release;
- ability for tenants to change the locks without landlord’s permission to prevent FDV;
- providing tenants affected by FDV with the right to improve security at a rental property; and
- giving tenants who find themselves on a tenancy database due to FDV a pathway to have their names removed from the tenancy database.
Artist Barbara Bynder describes how her painting ‘Freedom to Fly’ represents the opportunities provided by the Residential Tenancies Legislation Amendment (Family Violence) Bill.
“The darker colours are representing the domestic violence situation that victims find themselves in, and the lighter colour of the bird is symbolically freedom to fly,” she said.
“The bars symbolise feelings of entrapment and isolation with nowhere to go. In the painting the bars are beginning to fade and bend. This is because when you get to the end of the domestic violence situation, the victim can see the way out, however is not always able to leave. The lighter colours circling the bars is offering glimpses of hope. The new laws give the victim an opportunity to see through the bars that entrap them.”
More information about the Residential Tenancies Legislation Amendment (Family Violence) Bill is available on the Consumer Protection website at www.dmirs.wa.gov.au/familyviolence.
Media Contact: Alina Cavanagh, (08) 6552 9471 / firstname.lastname@example.org
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