As a landlord, you have to wear a lot of different hats sometimes. You have to interview new tenants, be a rent collector and take care of maintenance issues. And sometimes you have to act as a mediator as well. Hopefully, this type of thing doesn’t happen on a regular basis but this is why it is important to know how to handle a situation like this.
If your tenant is involved with a family violence situation there is a process in place and you can help your tenant get the help they need.
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. You may think that changing the lease without legal intervention is the right way to go. It depends on the case – you could do more harm than good.
What should the tenant do?
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.
What can the landlord do?
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?