Deciding whether to stay or leave the family home is an important and personal decision for a person affected by family violence or personal violence. If they live in a rented home, here are some extra things to consider.
Important questions to ask if the affected person lives in rented housing:
Do locks need to be changed to protect the affected person’s safety?
Is there an intervention order?
While some actions can be taken under the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (Vic) without obtaining an intervention order if there has been family violence, getting an intervention order can give the affected person more options for rental housing and can help them avoid expensive lease-break costs. See Getting an intervention order.
Is there an exclusion condition in the intervention order?
An exclusion condition orders the perpetrator to stay away from specific places such as the rented home. See Getting an intervention order.
Do they live in private, public or community housing?
If the affected person leaves the rented premises, they may need to go on a waiting list for public or community housing. If they live in public or community housing it may be better if the affected person can stay in the home. See Staying in the rental property.
Do they know they have the right to stay?
It’s important that the affected person is made aware that if they have experienced family violence they have the right to stay in their rented home, even if their name is not on the lease. See Staying in the rental property.
Whose name is on the lease?
Is the affected person’s name on the lease? Is the perpetrator’s name on the lease? Are they both on the lease? Is someone else on the lease? In many cases, it is possible to change the names on a lease. Even if the affected person’s name is not on the lease, they can apply to end the old lease and start a new lease in their name. See Staying in the rental property and Leaving the rental property.
What are the dates on the lease?
The dates on a lease can help you work out what options the affected person has if their name is on the lease but perpetrator’s name is not. An affected person can apply to reduce the time left on a fixed-term lease. Also, while the COVID-19 Measures are in place an affected person can give notice to move out if they are experiencing severe hardship, even if they have a fixed term lease. See Leaving the rental property.
Can they afford the rent and bills if they stay?
After safety, one of the most important things to consider when deciding if they can stay is whether they can afford to pay the rent and bills. See Staying in the rental property.
Is there any damage caused by the perpetrator?
If the perpetrator has caused damage at the rental property, the affected person can argue that they could not prevent the damage and that they should not be responsible to pay for any damage. See Who owes what when the lease changes? and Who owes what when the lease ends?
Do they need support?
If the affected person needs support there are many different services that can help:
- 1800RESPECT (1800respect.org.au)
The national counselling, support and information hotline open 24 hours
- Safe Steps (safesteps.org.au)
24/7 Family violence response
- The Orange Door (orangedoor.vic.gov.au/)
A free service for adults, children and young people who are experiencing or have experienced family violence and families who need extra support with the care of children.
- Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria (dvrcv.org.au)
A state-wide specialist family violence organisation.
- InTouch (intouch.org.au)
A multicultural centre against family violence which provides services and programs about family violence issues in migrant and refugee communities.
- Djirra (fvpls.org)
Provides a family violence legal service for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people by offering legal advice, representation and personalised support services.
- Elizabeth Morgan House (emhaws.org.au)
Provides support to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and children experiencing family violence from crisis to recovery programs.
- Find your nearest community legal centre (fclc.org.au)
- Victoria Legal Aid (legalaid.vic.gov.au)
This information is a guide only and should not be used as a substitute for professional legal advice.
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