Property 101: SA domestic violence victims rental protection reform

Property ObserverJanuary 31, 20160 min read

South Australia now has some of the strongest protections in the nation for victims of domestic violence who are renting their homes, under new laws coming into effect today.

Minister for Business Services and Consumers Susan Close said the amendments to the Residential Tenancies Act would help people leave violent relationships by making it easier for them to break rental agreements which might previously have prevented them from leaving an abusive partner.

“Everyone has the right to feel safe and live free from violence and the safety of people who are experiencing, or who fear domestic violence, is critically important,” Dr Close said.

“These changes will allow victims to terminate leases on rental properties they share with abusive partners - without facing further financial penalties.

“Until now, laws did not allow victims who leave a rental property to take their name off a joint lease without the consent of the other tenant.

“Furthermore, victims were liable for damage caused to a property by an abusive partner, even after they had fled for their safety or the safety of their children.”

Changes coming into effect today include:

• Recognising domestic violence in South Australian tenancy legalisation.

• Allowing victims to either continue in the tenancy without the perpetrator, leave the tenancy and no longer be liable for the premises, or terminate the tenancy altogether.

• Empowering the South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal to determine that one or more, but not all, co-tenants are liable for compensation to the landlord.

• Prohibiting a victim’s personal information being listed on a Residential Tenancy Database where it is determined domestic violence has occurred.

“One in six Australian women has experienced physical or sexual assault by a current or former partner. For more than 60 percent of women who had experienced physical assault by a male perpetrator, the most recent incident was in their home,” Dr Close said.

“We want to ensure victims feel confident there are protections in place so they don’t face further disadvantage if they decide to leave a hostile environment.”

The State Government worked closely in preparing the amendments with victim groups and crisis services, SAPOL, the Real Estate Institute of South Australia, landlords, property owners and other government agencies such as Housing SA. 

Property Observer

Domestic Violence
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