Residential tenancies amendments (family violence) Bill referred to Upper House Committee

Shelter WA urges State Parliament not to delay the passage of critical reforms to support the victims of family and domestic violence to remain in their homes.

The Residential Tenancies Legislation Amendment (Family Violence) Bill 2018, which protects victims of family and domestic violence and ensures their safety and security at home, has been referred to the WA Parliament’s Standing Committee on Legislation.

Shelter WA CEO, Ms Michelle Mackenzie said “The referral to the Standing Committee on Legislation provides an opportunity to reinforce the need for this critical legislative reform. The Bill had broad stakeholder consultation across the community sector, real estate industry, residential parks owners and property owners.” said Ms Mackenzie. “There is wide spread support for this Bill as it will have positive outcomes both for victims of family and domestic violence, and for landlords in respect of their property.”

“This calendar year there have been around 25 deaths in WA allegedly related to family and domestic violence.

The Western Australian Police Force has reported more than 21,000 family violence related offences had occurred in WA in 2017-18. Reform is needed now” said Ms Mackenzie.

The Bill proposes sensible amendments to the Residential Tenancies Act 1987 and Residential Parks (Long-stay Tenants) Act 2007 to ensure that victims of family and domestic violence can:

• terminate a tenancy quickly, by giving the lessor a notice of termination on the grounds of family violence supported by required evidence;
• make modifications to the home they are renting to ensure safety, such as changing locks without having to seek approval prior from the lessor; and
• affix any prescribed fixture, or make any prescribed renovation, alteration or addition to the premises to prevent the perpetrator’s entry onto the premises.

“Our current laws are inadequate, we don’t have a fair way for a victim of domestic violence to leave their tenancy urgently, or to make their home safe in a tenancy. These reforms are critical to the safety of victims of domestic violence in our community”, Ms Kate Davis, Principal Solicitor at Tenancy WA, the community legal centre for tenants.

The Bill also gives the Magistrates Court powers to:

• terminate the perpetrator’s interest in a tenancy agreement where the perpetrator is excluded from the premises by way of a court order; and
• order that a person’s name and personal details be removed from a tenancy database if the circumstances giving rise to the listing result from family violence.

“These are important reforms and we need this Bill to have swift passage once the Committee has tabled it’s report on 22 November 2018,” said Ms Mackenzie.

Family and domestic violence impacts on many lives and is the leading cause of homelessness in Western Australia.

The Committee is calling for submissions and Shelter WA encourages people to lodge a submission to show the critical importance of this reform. Submissions are due by 31 October 2018.

More information can be found on the Committee's webpage here.

Ends

Media Contact – Michelle Mackenzie, CEO of Shelter WA, 0419 931 819.