Family violence - information for tenants and landlords

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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 

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Call Consumer Affairs Victoria on 1300 55 81 81 (Monday to Friday, 9 am to 5 pm). Calling us costs the same as a local call. Additional charges may apply if you are calling from overseas, on a mobile or payphone.

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For information and advice in languages other than English, call 131 450 and say the English name of your language. Then ask the interpreter to call 1300 55 81 81.

For other ways to contact us, view our Contact us page.

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 lease
  • support available to help you with forms, processes and applications
  • your rights with things like repairs, getting evicted, and blacklists (tenancy 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 landlord, rooming house operator or property manager, view our:

Tenants’ 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 tenant who used violence cannot enter the rental property, you can change the locks. You do not need permission from the 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 tenant who used violence, you will need the landlord’s permission to change the locks. The landlord cannot say no without a good reason. For more information, view our Changing the locks page.

Generally, tenants 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 landlord or agent, and other tenants in the property (but not the excluded tenant)
  • copy of the safety notice or intervention order (or a certified extract of it) to the landlord or agent. This is so they do not have to give keys to the excluded tenant. The landlord or agent must keep your information private.

Excluded tenant

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 landlord, agent or other tenants 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 lease early (depending on how much time is left on the lease).

If you have a periodic (month by month) lease, you can end the lease at any time by giving the 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 lease (usually for six or 12 months), talk to the landlord or agent first. They may agree to end the lease early. It is a good idea to put any agreement in writing.

If the landlord or agent does not agree to end the fixed-term lease early, you will need to either:

  • break the lease and pay any fees that apply. For more information, view our If you do not give notice (if you break the lease) 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 used violence. 

VCAT can decide to shorten the lease (effectively, ending it early) after weighing up the hardship to you and the landlord. The landlord or agent cannot charge you any lease-breaking fees 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 tenant

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

For more information, view our factsheet:

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

To do this, you will need:

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

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

VCAT can decide:

  • how the bond (if any) will be refunded
  • who will be responsible for paying any outstanding expenses on the existing lease - 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, maintenance and changes to the property.

If you apply to VCAT to end the existing lease 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 landlord or agent first. You will need the landlord’s permission to make changes to the property. For more information, view our Tenants installing fixtures and altering the rental 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 landlord or agent cannot make you move out just because you are experiencing family violence. They can only end your lease for specific reasons – see these at Reasons a landlord can ask a tenant to vacate - Landlord giving notice to vacate 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.

Tenancy databases are also called ‘blacklists’. Landlords and agents 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 tenancy database, note that:

  • there are a limited number of reasons why a landlord or agent can list you – see these at Listing tenants on a database - Tenancy databases page
  • you can only be listed if the rental agreement has ended, and your name was on the lease
  • the landlord or agent must tell you in writing before they list you, and you can object.

For more information, view our Tenancy 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 tenancy, the respondent is referred to as the excluded tenant 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.