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Victims of family violence will be able to apply to VCAT to get a lease in their name (removing the perpetrator), or remove themselves from a lease.

VCAT will have the authority to rule on the termination of leases in situations of family or personal violence under changes to the Residential Tenancies Act that come into force on 29 March.

Victims of family violence will be able to apply to VCAT to get a lease in their name (removing the perpetrator), or remove themselves from a lease.

KR Peters Property Manager Crystal Barneveld says the change is significant and "overdue".

"It's so important that if someone is a victim of family violence they have a clear path they can take to remove themselves, or the perpetrator, from the situation. This amendment also provides clarity for rental providers on the steps that VCAT may take in these circumstances, where previously it was very much a grey area," Ms Barneveld said.

The new rights will apply to those who have been subjected to a family violence safety notice (issued by police), a family violence intervention order (issued by a court) or a personal safety intervention order (also issued by a court).

A protected person can apply to VCAT for a new tenancy agreement, even if they are not named on the existing lease, and to end the lease early on hardship grounds to ensure their safety or the safety of their children.

The protected person does not need to be named on the lease. The law applies if the rented premises is the person's principal place of residence.

The law will also apply to children. According to Consumer Affairs an application may be made on a child's behalf by a parent or guardian who lives at the rented premises with the child. An application may be made without the consent of the rental provider or any other party to the existing rental agreement.

VCAT must hear an application within 3 business days of the application being made.

VCAT will have the power to order the termination of an existing rental agreement and order the rental provider to enter into a new rental agreement with the specified person.

To make an order VCAT must be satisfied that:

  • the specified person and other persons (if any) could reasonably be expected to comply with the duties of a renter under a rental agreement,
  • the specified person or that person's dependent children would be likely to suffer severe hardship if the specified person were compelled to leave the premises,
  • the hardship suffered by the specified person would be greater than any hardship the rental provider would suffer if the order were made.

This reform also applies to rooming houses, caravan parks and residential parks.

For clarification on these and other changes to the Residential Tenancies Act contact the property management team at KR Peters.