New Domestic Violence Laws and Initiatives

Victims of domestic violence can soon terminate rental leases with one week’s notice, thanks to new rental laws passed in Queensland Parliament last week.

Those escaping violent relationships are usually reluctant to do so due to financial hardship, among other reasons. A victim can become discouraged from leaving and the often violent cycle continues, as they are left with no choice but to remain in their current circumstances.

However, the new laws allow victims to terminate their lease and access their share of the bond, making escaping their situation slightly more achievable. Under section 308A of the Housing Legislation Amendment Bill 2021, a tenant who can “no longer safely continue to occupy a premise because of domestic violence may end their interest in the tenancy” with 7 days notice.

Not only this, but once passed, the legislation will also allow tenants to change the locks on their rental without requiring their landlord’s consent. Section 211 allows a tenant to change locks if they have a “reasonable excuse” or it is “necessary because of an emergency”.

Of course, these victim tenants must provide evidence to their landlord or property manager of their domestic violence experience, such as a protection order, court injunction or evidence document signed by a social worker. These overdue changes will amend the latest Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008, supporting victims as they flee violent relationships for a better life, instead of leaving them stuck and bound to a lease which, instead of providing a safe home, may be putting them at further risk.

Alongside these empowering new laws, women and children leaving violent relationships can access a one-off $5,000 payment from this week – made up of $1,500 cash, with the remainder put towards payment of a rental bond, school fees or other essential items – known as the Escaping Violence Payment, part of a $1.1billion safety package announced in the May budget. Again, applicants must supply evidence of financial stress and domestic violence.

Queensland is leading by example when it comes to recognition of victims of domestic violence. If any of the above circumstances apply to you, please contact our office and we will be able to assist you.

If you have any questions, please get in touch with our team at Richardson Murray here.