Safe Tenancy WA advice for landlords

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Landlord / lessorProperty industry

Safe Tenancy WA - family and domestic violence changes to renting laws

Advice for landlords in Western Australia

Rental laws in Western Australia (WA) have previously restricted tenants affected by family and domestic violence (FDV) wanting to end a tenancy agreement. Changes made in April 2019 to the Residential Tenancies Act 1987  and the Residential Parks (Long-stay Tenants) Act 2006 now provide options for thousands of Western Australians impacted by FDV, allowing a tenant to stay or to go.

In this factsheet

Freedom to Fly by Barbara Bynder
Freedom to Fly by Barbara Bynder, by ahynd
Freedom to Fly by Barbara Bynder

What is family and domestic violence?

Family and domestic violence (FDV) is a crime. It is behaviour that results in physical, sexual and/or psychological damage, forced isolation, economic deprivation, or causes the victim(s) to live in fear. It can be experienced by people of all classes, religions, ethnicity, ages, abilities and sexual preference.

Examples of criminal offences in FDV situations include assault, sexual assault, making threats to a person’s safety, stalking, damaging or stealing property, harm to a person’s pet and breaching restraining orders.

In many cases, the victim(s) and the perpetrator may live together, however the perpetrator does not have to be living in the same house as the affected tenant for the situation to qualify as FDV.

As a landlord, what do the changes mean to me?

Tenants affected by FDV during their tenancy will now be able to:

  • give you seven (7) days’ notice that they want or need to leave the rental property and vacate with immediate effect; or
  • apply to court to have a perpetrator removed from the tenancy agreement, allowing the tenant affected by FDV to remain in the rental home.

Does the tenant need to provide me with any official documentation in these circumstances?

Yes. Tenants who want to leave the tenancy must provide a landlord* with:

  • a Notice of Termination (Residential Tenancy FDV Termination Notice or Residential Parks FDV Termination Notice); and
  • one of the following:
    • a domestic violence order;
    • a family court injunction or an application for a family court injunction;
    • a copy of a prosecution notice or an indictment detailing a charge relating to family violence having been committed against the tenant; or
    • an official Consumer Protection (CP) Family Violence Report Evidence Form, signed by a designated professional who can be:
      • a doctor;
      • a psychologist;
      • a social worker;
      • the person in charge of a women’s refuge; or
      • a police officer.

Note: from October 2019 the following professionals will also be able to sign the CP evidence form:

  • a child protection worker;
  • a family support worker; or
  • a person in charge of an Aboriginal health, welfare or legal organisation.

As a landlord, you cannot challenge your tenant’s request to leave the rental property if both documents have been completed properly and provided to you with the proper amount of notice. If the documents are not completed properly, you can appeal the termination notice in court. However, landlords are encouraged to first discuss the proper documentation with the tenant.

Please note, a perpetrator does not have to be named on the lease for a tenant to submit the termination form and FDV evidence.

It’s a lot to take in. What happens next?

You are not expected to become an expert in FDV or to report FDV to any officials.

If there are any co-tenants, you will need to provide them with a copy of the termination notice, but not the attached document (e.g. family violence report) and give the co-tenants time to decide if they want to remain in the tenancy or leave.

Remember the Consumer Protection Family Violence Report Evidence Form is confidential  and any landlord who discloses the details, for example to a co-tenant, can be fined up to $5,000.

A co-tenant has seven (7) days to decide whether to remain in the rental property or to leave. If any co-tenant wants to stay you must let the lease continue. A co-tenant who decides to leave must give you 21 days’ notice. You will also need to conduct a property inspection whenever a tenant’s  interest  in the tenancy agreement is terminated and prepare an account of liabilities for the tenants/court.

Be sure to keep any FDV evidence (e.g. family violence report, copy of restraining order, family court order) provided by the tenant in a safe and secure manner. If you breach confidentiality you risk prosecution and could be putting a victim’s life at risk.

Please note, if an alleged perpetrator is a co-tenant, you cannot make them leave if the victim leaves. Forcing an alleged perpetrator to leave the home has the potential to make the victim less safe. If an alleged perpetrator wants to remain in the tenancy, the lease continues.

Even though a person has been violent to a family member it does not necessarily mean they will be a bad tenant; they may pay the rent on time and keep the home very clean for example.

What happens once my tenant has applied to the court to remove the perpetrator from the tenancy agreement?

As the landlord you are entitled to participate in the court proceedings. The court will send you, and any co-tenants, a copy of the court application and notice of any hearing.

In making a decision, the court must take into account the following factors:

  • the best interests of any child who is ordinarily a resident at the premises;
  • the best interests of the protected tenant, including if the premises under the residential tenancy agreement are social housing premises, the ability of the tenant to meet any eligibility criteria for those premises;
  • the effect the order might have on the landlord and any tenants other than the protected tenant;
  • the effect the order might have on any pets kept on the premises; and
  • the fact that perpetrators of family violence might seek to misuse the protections offered to tenants and landlords under this Act to continue their violent behaviour and the need to prevent that misuse.

If there has been damage to the premises or unpaid rent, and this has happened because of FDV, the court can assign liability for any damages or debt to whoever is responsible for the FDV. This does not change how much you as a landlord can claim but clarifies who is responsible for the payment. If there is no court order, all tenants remain jointly liable for any damages and/or debt.

The court can also make an order to pay out some of the security bond:

  • to any tenant who is leaving the tenancy, if they don’t owe you any money; and/or
  • to you if you are owed money for any damages and debt.

If part of the security bond is paid out and the tenancy is ongoing, you will be entitled to ask the remaining tenant(s) to top up the security bond to the maximum amount permitted under the Act.

Be sure to check your landlords’ insurance as your policy may be voided if the maximum bond amount permitted is not being held by the bond administrator.

What if a remaining tenant refuses to top up the bond?

You would treat this scenario like any other breach of the Act, issuing the remaining tenant with a Notice of breach of agreement (Form 20). If the tenant continues to refuse to top up the bond, then you can issue a Notice of termination (Form 1C).

Are there other changes I need to be aware of as a landlord?


The tenancy law changes allow a tenant to change the locks without first seeking your permission either:

  • after a perpetrator’s interest in a tenancy agreement is terminated; or
  • if necessary to prevent family violence that the tenant suspects is likely to be committed against them or their dependants.

The tenant must give you a copy of the new key(s) within seven (7) days. You are prohibited from giving a copy of the key(s) to anyone the tenant has specifically instructed you in writing not to. Of course, you are welcome to offer to change the locks on the tenant’s behalf if that is an option.

The tenancy law changes also allow a tenant to make prescribed security upgrades to the premises without a landlord’s permission:

  • after a perpetrator’s interest in a tenancy agreement is terminated; or
  • if necessary to prevent family violence that the tenant suspects is likely to be committed against them or their dependants.

You should be informed about the tenant’s intention to make the security upgrades, which must be installed by a qualified tradesperson. Any associated costs are the tenant’s responsibility and a copy of any settled invoice should be supplied to the landlord. All upgrades should comply with strata by-laws and take into consideration the age and character of the property.

At the end of the tenancy, you can ask the tenant to restore the rental property to its original condition. Or  if you feel the upgrades add value to the home and you would like to leave them in place you could negotiate to pay an appropriate amount to the exiting tenant.

What benefits are there for landlords?

The tenancy law changes are aimed at saving lives and helping victims of FDV.

There are benefits to you as a landlord because a tenant affected by FDV will now have a legal way to leave a tenancy if they cannot safely remain.

Those benefits include:

  • tenants are less likely to abandon your property and leave goods behind that you have to dispose of;
  • the option for either party to stay in your property may prevent vacancies;
  • efficient and simplified process will allow you to re-let the premises more quickly;
  • your property being better protected from FDV related damage and avoiding lengthy periods of unpaid rent; and
  • you are helping to save lives.

Next steps

Contact your landlords’ insurance provider to check your cover in relation to family and domestic violence. For example, can you claim for rent default or are you covered for damage caused by a malicious act? Do any other exclusions apply?

For more information, please visit

You can also sign up for our regular bulletins and download the free Consumer Protection app, iRentWA.

* In tenancy law the term lessor is used but in this factsheet we say landlord.

Consumer Protection
Fact sheet
Last updated 15 Apr 2019

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