This is definitely something you hope to avoid as landlord or property manager, but unfortunately it does happen. This is why it is wise to have a general idea on how to handle a situation like this. A situation, that is far too important to ignore.
If your tenant is involved with a family violence situation there is in fact a set of steps you can help your tenant to follow.
If your tenant has confided in you that there is an issue, encourage them to work with your state’s law. This information is for Victoria, so be sure you know what is required in your state. I would advise that in any situation like this, you get legal counsel so you can understand the ramifications of any decisions you make. Out of the goodness of your heart you may think that changing the lease without legal intervention is the right way to go, but it depends on the case, and you never know, by jumping the gun you may do more harm than good. So again, seek out legal counsel first and foremost.
For this discussion we are going to assume that if changing the lease quickly was the right thing to do, you would. But so you don’t get yourself in hot water, here are the actual steps your tenant needs to follow.
This is what is required of the tenant:
- The tenant/victim needs to apply to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) to have their tenancy arrangements changed.
- This can be done only after a family violence intervention order is finalized by a magistrate.
- The protected person(s) (i.e. your tenant) can apply to VCAT to end the lease early or arrange for a new tenancy agreement even if their names are not on the existing lease.
- VCAT will determine who is entitled to any bond or who is responsible for any damage.
The Landlord in this situation:
- Has the right to have a new ‘Condition Report’ provided on the property and also be given entry to the property to view the condition of the property (after property notice has been given).
As you can see VCAT is where the power is in this situation, and without it your tenant may create more problems for themselves.
For further information on this please see Consumer Affairs Victoria.
Have you ever had to deal with this before? What was your first step?