Domestic and Family Violence

  • Tenants experiencing DFV can change the locks to the property without the Lessor’s consent
  • Tenants experiencing DFV can vacate the premises immediately with 7 days notice
  • Tenants experiencing DFV can receive a bond refund, with the perpetrator required to ‘top up’ the refunded bond.

Implementation Date: 20/10/2022

On 20 October 2021, the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008 (the Act) was amended to provide options for people experiencing domestic and family violence who need to leave a tenancy.

These changes, coupled with existing protections in the Act, support tenants experiencing domestic and family violence to end a tenancy quickly, or if they choose, to remain in the rental property safely.

A person who experiences domestic and family violence in a rental property has rights under the Act, even if they are not named on the tenancy agreement.

What is domestic and family violence?

Under the Act, domestic violence has the meaning given by the Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012.

Domestic and family violence occurs when one person in an intimate personal, family or informal carer relationship behaves towards the other person in the relationship in a way that is:

  • physically or sexually abusive
  • verbally abusive
  • emotionally or psychologically abusive
  • economically abusive
  • threatening
  • coercive
  • in any other way controlling or dominating the second person and causes them to fear for their safety or wellbeing or that of someone else.

Domestic and family violence covers a wide range of behaviours including:

  • causing personal injury to a person or threatening to do so
  • coercing a person to engage in sexual activity or attempting to do so
  • damaging a person’s property or threatening to do so
  • depriving a person of the person’s liberty or threatening to do so
  • threatening a person with the death or injury of the person, a child of the person, or someone else
  • threatening to commit suicide or self-harm so as to torment, intimidate or frighten the person to whom the behaviour is directed
  • causing or threatening to cause the death of, or injury to, an animal, whether or not the animal belongs to the person to whom the behaviour is directed, so as to control, dominate or coerce the person
  • unauthorised surveillance of a person
  • unlawfully stalking a person.

For more information refer to the Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012 section 8.

Responding to a Notice Ending a Tenancy (Domestic Family Violence)

Once you have received a Notice ending tenancy/residency interest (domestic and family violence) (Form 20, R20) and have inspected or received the relevant evidence (such as a protection order, temporary protection order or a Domestic and family violence report), you must, within 7 days of receiving the notice, inform the vacating tenant:

  1. whether you accept the notice and evidence or intend to make an urgent application to Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) for an order to have the notice set aside because it does not comply with the requirements under the Act
  2. when you will be informing other tenants/residents for the same residential tenancy/rooming accommodation agreement that the tenant/resident has vacated and ended their interest in the tenancy/residency, and that the tenancy agreement will continue for any remaining tenants or residents.

NOTIFYING REMAINING TENANTS/RESIDENTS

If there are other tenants/residents remaining on the same residential tenancy/rooming accommodation agreement, you must wait until a minimum of 7 days (but no later than 14 days) after the vacating tenant/resident’s interest in the tenancy/residency has ended, to provide the remaining tenants/residents with a Continuing interest notice.

CONFIDENTIALITY

You, the property manager/owner or manager/provider MUST NOT:

  • disclose evidence supporting the tenant/resident’s notice ending tenancy/residency interest to anyone unless in specific permitted circumstances (outlined in the Act section 308I or 381I). Penalties apply to property managers/owners or managers/providers who do not follow these requirements.
  • require the vacating tenant/resident to provide you with their forwarding address
  • provide any information about the vacating tenant/resident ending their interest in the tenancy/residency, to any remaining tenants/residents until a minimum of 7 days after the date the vacating tenant/resident’s interest in the tenancy/residency ends. After this time period, information given should be limited to that in the Continuing interest notice.

Note: The vacating tenant/resident’s interest in the tenancy/residency ends when:

  • their 7 day notice period expires – meaning 7 days after the date the Notice ending tenancy/residency interest (domestic and family violence) (Form 20, R20) was provided (item 4 on the form), and
  • the tenant/resident has vacated the premises.

COSTS

You cannot ask the vacating tenant/resident who has experienced domestic and family violence to:

  • repair, or compensate you for, any damage to the premises or inclusions that have resulted from an act of domestic and family violence experienced by the tenant/resident.
  • pay costs relating to ending a tenancy/rooming accommodation agreement or interest, goods left behind in the premises or reletting of the premises.

BOND REFUNDS

Either you or the vacating tenant/resident can complete a Bond refund for persons experiencing domestic and family violence (Form 4a). This is a paper form only and is not available via RTA Web Services.

The vacating tenant /resident must provide you with a Notice ending tenancy/residency interest (domestic and family violence) (Form 20, R20) before requesting their bond contribution to be refunded. The RTA can only process a rental bond refund after the tenant/resident has vacated the premises and their interest in the residential tenancy/rooming accommodation agreement has ended.

You may agree or disagree with the tenant/resident’s request for their bond contribution (i.e. you might decide to claim for damage or rent arrears that are not the result of domestic and family violence). Find out more about the Bond refund for persons experiencing domestic and family violence (Form 4a) and the options available if you do not agree on the amount to be refunded.

Important: The RTA will only correspond with you and the vacating tenant/resident during this process and NOT any remaining tenants/residents or co-contributors to the bond.

BOND TOP UPS

If the remaining tenants/residents are required to top up the rental bond, you must advise them in the Continuing interest notice that:

  • they are required to top up the rental bond;
  • the amount they must pay to top up the rental bond; and
  • the day by which the top up must be made (which must be 1 month after the Continuing interest notice is given to all remaining tenants/residents).

CHANGED LOCKS & ACCESS CODES

The Act gives a tenant the right to change the locks at the property if they believe it is necessary to protect themselves or other occupants from domestic and family violence.

The tenant does not need to ask you for consent to do this, but they must:

  • engage a qualified locksmith or tradesperson
  • provide a copy of the key or access code to the property manager/owner (unless you agree it is not necessary, or the Tribunal orders that the key not be given to the property manager/owner)
  • comply with body corporate laws or by-laws applying to the property.

If a tenant changes a lock or access code due to domestic and family violence and gives you a copy of the changed key or code, you must not give the new key or access code to any person without the tenant/resident’s agreement or a reasonable excuse.

Different rules to changing locks apply to residents. Please refer to the Domestic and family violence – information for residents fact sheet.

Penalties apply if you do not comply with this section of the Act.

Information

On 18 June 2021, the Queensland Government introduced the Housing Legislation Amendment Bill 2021 to the Queensland Parliament.

The Bill was passed by Queensland Parliament on 14 October 2021.

Queensland’s new legislation, which is administered by the RTA, amends the existing legislation:

  • Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008
  • Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Regulation 2009
  • Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation (COVID-19 Emergency Response) Regulation 2020.

Links

Key information provided in this blog post has been extracted from the Housing Legislation Amendment Act 2021, the Explanatory Notes and the Residential Tenancies Authority (RTA) website, and is provided as an educational resource only.

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