Update to family domestic violence regulations - Tenants Bulletin Issue 12

This publication is for: 

29 November 2019

In this issue:

Update to family and domestic violence regulations.

Update to family 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:

  • violence or a threat of violence, by a person towards a family member of the person; or
  • any other behaviour by the person that coerces or controls the family member or causes the member to be fearful.

It can be experienced by people of all classes, religions, ethnicity, ages, abilities and sexual preferences.

In many cases you and the perpetrator may live together, however the perpetrator does not have to be living in the same house as you for the situation to qualify as FDV.

Additions to list of ‘designated professionals’

If you want to leave the rental home you can by providing a Notice of termination of tenant’s interest in residential tenancy agreement on grounds of family violence and accompanying documentation as evidence of FDV.

Accompanying documentation can include a Family Violence Restraining Order, proof of criminal charges being laid or a conviction relating to violence against you, a Family Court injunction or an application for a Family Court injunction or a Family Violence Report - evidence form signed by a professional designated under 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:

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

If you want to stay and the perpetrator of family violence is listed on the lease, you can apply to the court for an order to have them removed from the tenancy agreement. The lessor and co-tenants will find out about this hearing when they receive a notice from the court.

Real estate agents or lessors cannot charge fees to tenants that are related to FDV circumstances. An inspection that is required when a tenant’s interest is terminated for FDV is to be treated as an ordinary final inspection. If the lessor or real estate agent do charge such fees they can be fined for the breach.

Changing the locks

You do not need permission to change locks to prevent FDV. If you are renting a private home, the lessor/property manager must be given a copy of the key within seven (7) days. The lessor/property manager is prohibited from giving a copy of a key to anyone you tell them in writing not to. Lock changes are at the tenant’s own cost but some schemes are available that help fund lock changes for safety reasons.  You must pay for these changes however there are services available which may be able to help with these costs. Contact the Women’s Domestic Violence Helpline on 1800 007 339 for information on these services.

Upgrading security without the lessor's permission

You can now make security upgrades to the premises without a lessor/property manager’s permission:

  • after a perpetrator’s interest in a tenancy agreement is terminated; or
  • if necessary to prevent family violence that you reasonably suspect is likely to be committed against you or your dependents.

You have the right to improve security at the rental home at your 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.

When you decide to make any alterations to the security you should:

  • Provide written notice to the lessor/property manager of your intention to make the alterations;
  • Ensure that the upgrades are done by a qualified tradesperson;
  • Pay for the upgrades and all associated costs; and
  • Provide the lessor/property manager with a copy of any invoice within 14 days of the alterations being completed.

A tenant must restore the premises to their original condition at the end of the tenancy if the lessor/property manager requires them to do so and, where work has been undertaken by a tradesperson, must provide to the lessor/property manager a copy of that tradesperson’s invoice within 14 days of that work having been performed.

Handy resources

Industry Bulletins relating to FDV

Safe Tenancy WA Video

Consumer Protection’s Safe Tenancy WA video created an animation to explain family and domestic violence related changes to Western Australia’s tenancy laws – has now been produced in five languages other than English.

The Safe Tenancy WA video is available on Vimeo in the following translations:

Consumer Protection Awards 2020

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.

Need more information? We’re here to help!

Contact Consumer Protection by calling 1300 304 054 or by email.

Consumer Protection
Last updated 29 Nov 2019

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