Family violence - information for renters and rental providers

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  • Call 000 if you are in danger.
  • Call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 (24 hours) to talk to a counsellor about family violence, and get support.

On this page:

How to contact us 

Illustration of person on phone

Call Consumer Affairs Victoria on 1300 55 81 81 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm).

Calling us costs the same as a local call. Additional charges may apply if you are calling from overseas, on a mobile or payphone.

You can also contact us through our online enquiry form.

Your information will stay confidential.

How we can help you

If you live in a rental property and you are experiencing family violence, we can give you information on:

  • your options if you want to leave the rental property, or stay in the property and take another person’s name off the rental agreement (lease)
  • support available to help you with forms, processes and applications
  • your rights with things like repairs, getting evicted, and blacklists (renter databases).

We may refer you to a community agency for help with a renting issue, through our Tenancy Assistance and Advocacy Program. We will ask you for permission first.

If you are a rental provider (landlord), rooming house operator or property manager, view our:

Renters’ rights and responsibilities in a family violence situation

Protected person

If you have a safety notice or intervention order protecting you, and it says the renter who was violent cannot enter the rental property, you can change the locks. You do not need permission from the rental provider (landlord or agent), and your name does not have to be on the lease.

If you do not have a safety notice or intervention order excluding the renter who was violent, you will need the rental provider's permission to change the locks. The rental provider cannot say no without a good reason. For more information, view our Changing the locks page.

Generally, renters are responsible for organising and paying for locks to be changed. For help and advice, contact a family violence support service (see Resources and support on this page) or the Victims Support Agency on 1800 819 817.

After the locks have been changed, give a:

  • key for any new lock to the rental provider, and other renters in the property (but not the excluded renter)
  • copy of the safety notice or intervention order (or a certified extract of it) to the rental provider. This is so they do not have to give keys to the excluded renter. The rental provider must keep your information private.

Excluded renter

If you have been excluded from the rental property by a safety notice or intervention order, and the person who is protected by that order changes the locks, the rental provider or other renters cannot give you keys for the new locks. This applies for as long as the notice or order is in effect.

For more information, view our factsheet:

Protected person

If you want to leave the rental property to ensure your safety, or the safety of your children, you may need to end the rental agreement (lease) early, depending on how much time is left on the agreement.

If you have a periodic (month by month) agreement, you can end the agreement at any time by giving the rental provider (landlord or agent) 28 days’ notice in writing. You do not need a safety notice or intervention order to do this.

If you have a fixed-term agreement (usually for six or 12 months), talk to the rental provider first. They may agree to end the agreement early. It is a good idea to put any agreement in writing.

If the rental provider does not agree to end the fixed-term agreement early, you will need to either:

  • break the agreement and pay any fees that apply. For more information, view our Breaking a rental agreement page, or
  • apply to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT), if you have an interim or final intervention order protecting you and excluding the person who was violent. 

VCAT can decide to shorten the agreement (effectively, ending it early) after weighing up the hardship to you and the rental provider. The rental provider cannot charge you any fees for breaking the agreement, unless VCAT orders that they can do so.

If you are thinking about applying to VCAT, contact us for advice. We can refer you to support services that will help you apply and make sure you are safe at the hearing.

Excluded renter

If you have been excluded from the rental property by a safety notice or intervention order, and your name is on the rental agreement, you can apply to VCAT if you want to end the agreement early.

For more information, view our factsheet:

To stay in the rental property without the excluded renter, you can apply to VCAT to end the existing rental agreement (lease) and start a new one (with the same conditions and rent). The excluded renter will not be on the new agreement.

To do this, you will need:

  • to live at the property (your name does not have to be on the rental agreement), and
  • a final intervention order that says the excluded renter cannot enter the home.

If the existing agreement is fixed-term, the new agreement will be for the remaining agreement period. For example, if there is 5 months left on an existing 12-month agreement, the new agreement will be for 5 months.

VCAT can decide:

  • how the bond (if any) will be refunded
  • who will be responsible for paying any outstanding expenses on the existing agreement - for example, bills or repairs.

If you are thinking about applying to VCAT, contact us for advice. We can refer you to support services that will help you apply and make sure you are safe at the hearing.

If the rental property gets damaged because of family violence, it is important to get this repaired. If the damage is not repaired when you leave the property, you may lose part or all of your bond money.

You may be able to get help with repairs from a family violence support service. To find a support service, see Resources and support on this page.

For general information about repairs, view Repairs in rental properties.

If you apply to VCAT to end the existing rental agreement and start a new one, VCAT can also decide who should pay for repairs. For information about this process, see ‘Staying in the rental property’, above.

If you need extra security devices to stay safe in the rental property – for example, an alarm system or security screen door – discuss this with the rental provider (landlord or agent) first. You will need the rental provider’s permission to make changes to the property. For more information, view our Renters making changes to the property page.

A family violence support service may also help you get security features installed, as part of a safety plan. To find a support service, see Resources and support on this page.

A rental provider (landlord or agent) cannot make you move out just because you are experiencing family violence. They can only end your rental agreement for specific reasons – see these at Giving notice to a renter page. They must also give you the required amount of notice (time before you have to leave) and use the correct ‘notice to vacate’ form.

If you are worried about getting a notice to vacate or getting evicted, contact us for advice.

Renter databases are also called ‘blacklists’. Rental providers can use them to check if people who apply for a rental property have a recent history of breaching rental agreements.

If you are worried about being put on a renter database, note that:

  • there are a limited number of reasons why a rental provider can list you – see these on our Renter databases page
  • you can only be listed if the rental agreement has ended, and your name was on the agreement
  • the rental provider must tell you in writing before they list you, and you can object.

For more information, view our Renter databases page.

Resources and support - family violence and renting

Factsheets

Support for tenants

Illustration of hands showing the concept of support

Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT)

For information on applying to VCAT:

For support with the VCAT process:

Victoria Legal Aid

For legal advice:

Tenants Victoria

For renting information and advice:

Safe Steps

For family violence support for women and children:

w|respect

For family violence support for LGBTIQ people:

MensLine Australia

For support, information and referrals for men:

Victims of Crime Helpline

For advice on reporting crimes, court processes, and applying for compensation and financial assistance:

More resources and support 

For more information and a list of support agencies, visit the Department of Justice and Community Safety’s Family Violence page.

Definitions

Family violence is any behaviour that in any way controls or dominates a family member and causes them to feel fear for their own, or another family member’s, safety or wellbeing. It can include physical, sexual, psychological, emotional or economic abuse. It can also include any behaviour that causes a child to hear, witness, or otherwise be exposed to the effects of that behaviour.

A family includes the following:

  • current or former:
    • wives
    • husbands
    • domestic partners (including same-sex partners)
  • parents
  • children
  • relatives
  • other people considered to be ‘family’.

A protected person is someone who is protected by any of the following:

  • Family violence safety notice (issued by the police)
  • Family violence intervention order (issued by a court)
  • Personal safety intervention order (issued by a court).

A respondent is someone with one of the above notice or orders issued against them. In the case of a rental agreement, the respondent is referred to as the excluded renter if the notice or order says they cannot enter the home.

A family violence safety notice may have conditions similar to a family violence intervention order. A police officer applies for and issues a family violence safety notice.

A safety notice is also an application by police for a magistrate to make an intervention order. It stays in effect until the magistrate decides whether to make an intervention order.

If the respondent breaks the conditions of the safety notice, they can be arrested by police and may be fined or imprisoned.

For more information, visit the Family violence safety notices page on the Legal Aid Victoria website.

A family violence intervention order is issued by a magistrate to protect family members from violence.

An intervention order can be an interim or final order; both may have different conditions. For example, a final intervention order may say that the respondent cannot enter the home, but an interim order may not say this.

If the respondent breaks the conditions of the order they can be arrested by police and may be fined or imprisoned.

For more information, visit the Family violence intervention orders page on the Legal Aid Victoria website.

A personal safety intervention order is issued by a magistrate to protect someone who fears for their safety by someone outside of their family - for example, neighbours or friends.

For more information, visit the Personal safety intervention orders page on the Legal Aid Victoria website.