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29 November 2019
Update to family and domestic violence regulations
From 12 October 2019 the regulations to the Residential Tenancies Act 1987 (RTA) prescribed additional classes of persons who can make a report of family violence to further support tenants experiencing family and domestic violence (FDV).
Family violence refers to:
It can be experienced by people of all classes, religions, ethnicity, ages, abilities and sexual preferences.
In many cases, the affected tenant(s) and the perpetrator may live together, however the perpetrator does not have to be living in the same house for the situation to qualify as FDV.
Tenants are currently able to leave their rental home by completing a Notice of termination of the tenant’s interest in the residential tenancy agreement on grounds of family violence and accompanying documentation evidencing FDV.
Evidence can include a Domestic Violence Order, a Family Court injunction or an application for a an injunction, proof of criminal charges being laid by the tenant or a conviction relating to violence against the tenant or a Family Violence Report - evidence form signed by a professional designated in the RTA.
From 12 October 2019, the list of designated professionals includes a prescribed class of person meaning that additional professionals can now sign the evidence form. These professions are:
Remember the Consumer Protection Family Violence Report Evidence Form is confidential and you are responsible for ensuring that the documents are stored in a secure location. Any landlord who discloses the details, for example to a co-tenant, or does not keep the documents secure can be fined up to $5,000 for each offence
You must provide a copy of the termination notice to any of the co tenants. You must not include copies of any supporting documentation.
Landlords cannot charge fees that are related to FDV circumstances. An inspection that is required when a tenant’s interest is terminated for FDV reasons is to be treated as an ordinary final inspection and therefore should be described and charged as such under a management agreement.
The tenancy law changes allow tenants who are experiencing FDV to change the locks without first seeking your permission either:
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; or the perpetrator whose interest has been terminated under the family violence provisions.
The updated regulations allow tenants to make certain security upgrades to the premises without a landlord’s permission:
Tenants have the right to improve security at the rental home at their own cost, for example installing CCTV, external lights, window locks, security screens or shutters and pruning of shrubs and trees. All upgrades should comply with strata by-laws and take into consideration the age and character of the property.
Tenants can upgrade security without permission as long as:
A tenant must restore the premises to their original condition at the end of the tenancy if the landlord requires them to do so and, where work has been undertaken by a tradesperson, must provide to the landlord with a copy of that tradesperson’s invoice within 14 days of that work having been performed.
Consumer Protection has developed a number of resources to assist you to meet your requirements in relation to FDV. These include flow charts for When a tenant terminates their interest in a lease on grounds of family and domestic violence; and when the Court orders termination of perpetrator tenant’s interest in a lease on grounds of family and domestic violence.
Industry Bulletins relating to FDV:
Consumer Protection’s animated Safe Tenancy WA video explains the FDV changes to Western Australia’s tenancy laws. It has now been produced in five languages other than English.
The Safe Tenancy WA video is available on Vimeo in the following translations:
The Consumer Protection Awards provides an opportunity to reward and recognise the achievements of individuals, non-government organisations, businesses, local governments, journalists and media outlets that have increased awareness of consumer issues, provided support for disadvantaged consumers or contributed to injury prevention for children. Potential nominees may have helped consumers with tenancy matters, scam prevention, debt management or understanding contracts.
Contact Consumer Protection by calling 1300 304 054 or by email.