New Amendments to the Residential Tenancies Act in NSW – Strengthened Tenancy Laws for Victims of Domestic Violence
New domestic violence provisions in the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 commenced 28 February 2019.
Tenants in circumstances of domestic violence are now able to end their tenancies by serving a termination notice, with relevant evidence, and vacating.
Please get advice from your local Tenants' Advice Service before taking action under the new provisions.
What are the changes?
Tenants in circumstances of domestic violence can now end their tenancies by serving a DV termination notice, with relevant evidence, and vacating.
A victim-survivor of domestic violence will be protected from breach fees and costs for property damage in some circumstances.
A landlord or agent will not be allowed to list information about a tenant in a tenancy database when the tenant has terminated the agreement in circumstances of domestic violence.
How the new provisions work
If you can answer ‘yes’ to all of the following four questions, you should be able to end your tenancy for domestic violence:
Q1. Has there been domestic violence (DV) in your household?
The victim of the violence may be a tenant or co-tenant or a dependent child of a tenant or co-tenant.
Q2. Are you either a tenant or co-tenant?
Tenant includes sub-tenant.
Q3. Do you want to leave?
Q4. Do you have relevant evidence?
Copy of a certificate of conviction of a DV offence OR
Copy of a DV Order (need not be final) OR
Copy of a Family Law Act 1975 injunction per section 68B or 114 of that Act OR
If the answers to all 4 questions above are ‘yes’ you can:
Draft a DV termination notice – see a sample letter here
Attach the relevant evidence – see Q4 above.
Serve the notice – on the landlord or agent and all other tenants
Vacate the premises – keys can be given to the landlord or agent
Then the process for terminating your tenancy is complete. Keep copies of everything in case the landlord later challenges the validity of the termination.
When you have terminated your tenancy in this way:
You do not have to pay a break fee or compensation to the landlord for ending your tenancy early
You must not be listed on a residential tenancy database
The evidence you have used is confidential, it must be stored and disposed of securely by all other parties
You may be protected from liability to pay for DV damage to the premises
Other tenants can apply to the Tribunal for termination of their tenancies
Remaining non-perpetrator co-tenants have short term (2 weeks) relief from paying more than their usual share of the rent.
CWH welcomes these changes and believes that all people have a right to feel safe and live free from domestic and family violence. If you experience or witness domestic violence you should contact the Police or a domestic violence advice or support service.
1800RESPECT– open 24/7 national sexual assault, family and domestic violence counselling line 1800 737 732.
Domestic Violence Line – a NSW state-wide telephone crisis counselling and referral service for women and people who identify as female 1800 656 463.
DV factsheet - This factsheet discusses domestic violence and tenancy in NSW.
Sample DV termination notice - Ending tenancy due to domestic violence.
Declaration form for a medical practitioner - This declaration is one of the four acceptable forms of evidence that a tenant can use to attach to their termination notice.
Women’s Legal Service NSW - is a community legal centre providing women across NSW with a range of free legal services.