Changing the rental agreement because of family violence

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There are rules that let people make changes to their rental agreements if they are experiencing violence by someone who is on the rental agreement.

On this page:

Other pages have information about changing the locks or installing security devices.

Changing or ending your rental agreement

If you are experiencing family violence and need to change your rental agreement (lease) so that you or your children can be safe, you can apply to VCAT. You can do this even if your name is not on the rental agreement. You can also apply on behalf of any children you live with who are experiencing family violence if you are their parent or guardian.

You can ask for VCAT to give you an order so that the rental provider (landlord):

  • gives you a new rental agreement in your name without the person who has been violent towards you, even if your name isn’t on the current agreement
  • lets you leave the property before the rental agreement ends without having to pay for breaking the lease.

Useful evidence for VCAT decisions

VCAT can use a range of information and evidence to reach their decision. If you or your children are experiencing family violence, you could provide documents and other evidence including:

  • a family violence safety notice (issued by the police)
  • a family violence intervention order (issued by a court)
  • a personal safety intervention order (issued by a court)
  • bank statements
  • photographs, voice or video recordings
  • emails, texts or other messages
  • a letter, report or written statement from any of the following people:
    • family
    • friends
    • support workers
    • health professionals
    • police
    • leaders or employees of religious organisations
    • crisis accommodation providers
    • child protection staff from DHHS
    • your employer
    • a lawyer.

VCAT might also consider spoken evidence.

When making a decision, VCAT will also take into account:

  • the risk to your or your children’s personal safety
  • whether the person committing the violence has been arrested, charged or released on bail.

VCAT must hear your application within 3 business days or no later than the next available day after the end of the 3 business days.

If VCAT changes or ends your rental agreement

If VCAT decides that your existing rental agreement should end or that a new agreement should be started that does not include the person committing the violence, the rental provider can:

If the rental provider organises an inspection, the excluded person is allowed to have a representative there during the inspection.

If someone is excluded from the property

The person who has been violent can be excluded from your rental property in a family violence safety notice, a family violence intervention order, or a personal safety intervention order.

They must not enter the property, and if you change the locks, the rental provider cannot give them a key.

However, they have certain rights, including:

  • having a representative attend an inspection of the property
  • applying to VCAT to end the rental agreement early.

For more information, view information for excluded renters or residents.

Renting law reforms

Victoria made significant changes to renting laws in 2021.

Some of the major changes to laws about ending an agreement due to family violence include:

  • VCAT can now make orders about ending agreements due to family or personal violence
  • An application to VCAT can now be brought on behalf of a child who is experiencing family violence.

Some language also changed:

  • Landlords are now called rental providers
  • Tenants are now called renters
  • Leases are now called rental agreements.

You can read about these and other changes in a summary of the reforms or in detailed fact sheets and guides.

Sections of the Act

If you want to know what the law says about ending an agreement due to family violence, you can read these sections of the Residential Tenancies Act 1997:

  • Section 91V – Application for termination or new residential rental agreement because of family violence or personal violence
  • Section 142S – Application for termination or new rooming house agreement because of family violence or personal violence
  • Section 142ZZ – Resident may challenge notice to vacate on grounds of family violence or personal violence (part 4A site)
  • Section 206AG – Application for termination or new agreement because of family violence or personal violence (caravan park).