Every person has the right to feel safe and live free from violence. Which is why ending domestic and family violence is a community responsibility.
The Queensland Government has made changes to give tenants experiencing domestic and family violence more options to manage their tenancy arrangements and enact plans to end the violence during the COVID-19 emergency period.
What’s changed for tenants?
If you are a tenant experiencing domestic and family violence you can:
- end your interest in a tenancy agreement by providing the property owner or manager seven days’ notice of your intention to leave supported by appropriate evidence
- leave immediately after providing the notice you will need to pay rent until the end of the seven-day notice period but you will not be liable for any other costs.
- request your rental bond contribution be refunded to you
- change the locks to your rental property without consent but you must provide copies of keys or access codes to the rental property owner or manager as soon as practicable.
What’s changed for property owners?
Property owners can ask remaining co-tenants to top-up the rental bond if a bond contribution is refunded to a tenant who ends their interest in a lease due to domestic and family violence.
Property owners and managers have new obligations to prevent misuse or disclosure of information in a notice of intention to leave for domestic and family violence, with penalties if they are not met.
If you’re a tenant experiencing domestic and family violence
You must complete and provide your property owner/manager with a Domestic and family violence ending tenancy or a Domestic and family violence notice ending residency.
You must also provide evidence of domestic and family violence when giving notice. You do not have to disclose any details about the domestic and family violence to the property owner or manager.
You can show you are experiencing domestic and family violence by providing at least one of the following to the property owner or manager:
- A protection Order or Temporary Protection Order
- A Police Protection Order
- An interstate order or injunction for personal protection under the Family Law Act 1975
- A Domestic and Family Violence Report signed by an authorised professional which is defined as: (i) a doctor; (ii) a social worker; (iii) a refuge or crisis worker; (iv) a domestic and family violence support worker or case manager; (v) an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medical service; (vi) a solicitor.
You can change locks to your property without the owner’s permission to ensure your personal safety if you:
- Ensure the locks are changed by a qualified tradesperson or locksmith
- Provide copies of the keys or access codes to the property owner or manager within seven days. They owner will not be able to give copies of keys or access codes to anyone unless you agree.
- You cannot change locks to common property such as general entry or exit doors to apartment complexes
- For rooming accommodation, the provider must change or repair the lock that secures entry to the resident's room if the resident believes it is necessary to protect them from domestic and family violence.
Rental bond refunds
- You can apply to have your part of the bond refunded by calling the RTA on 1300 366 311 from 8.30am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. Once the property owner agrees, your bond will be refunded.
- You won’t be responsible for any damage to property or rent arrears caused by the domestic and family violence. But you will be responsible for damage to property or rent arrears that is not the result of domestic and family violence.
If you’re a property owner or manager
- You should not ask for specific details about the domestic and family violence when a tenant has applied for a DFV Notice ending tenancy.
- You cannot disclose any information about the domestic and family violence to another person unless required to by law, including the tenant’s forwarding address information. Penalties apply.
- You must securely store and handle the information provided to you. Penalties apply.
Rental bond refunds and other costs
- You cannot ask the tenant to pay for lost rent, advertising or reletting fees of costs of disposing of abandoned goods if your tenant has left the tenancy due to domestic or family violence.
- You will need to refund your tenant their part of the rental bond. You can apply to QCAT to resolve any dispute around refunding the bond. This might be for example around damage to the property or rent arrears not resulting from the domestic or family violence.
Once issued with a Domestic and family violence notice ending tenancy, a property owner or manager must inform the tenant who has lodged the request:
- If you intend to make an urgent application to QCAT to review whether the notice has been validly given
- You will be informing other tenants who remain on the lease that a tenant is leaving the property and that the tenancy agreement will continue for the remaining tenants. Please note: you must not notify the remaining tenants until the seven-day notice period has expired.
If more than one tenant is on the lease, you need to inform the remaining tenants that:
- One tenant is vacating the lease
- The lease will continue for the remaining tenants
- They will need to top up (via a bond increase) the rental bond after one month's notice is given
If you’re a remaining tenant/s
- Your tenancy will continue as normal and you will need to keep paying the full amount of rent.
- You may be asked to top up the rest of the rental bond if a tenant has left because of domestic or family violence reasons, in which case you will need to pay
- You will have one month until you need to top up (via the bond increase) the bond
- You cannot end the tenancy because you don’t want to top up the bond