Local domestic violence support workers have supported new residential tenancy reforms, which aim to better protect victims of domestic violence.
Belinda McMahon, the manager of Wagga’s Sisters Housing Enterprises, said she was pleased with the proposal and hopes to see it pass through government.
“Having these measures in place would ease the pressures on our clients,” she said.
“The provision that we are not having to front court and not having to wait for that would help speed the process.”
The first proposed change is to allow tenants to terminate their tenancy immediately and without penalty by providing evidence of domestic violence through a provisional, interim or final AVO, certificate of conviction, family law injunction or a statutory declaration made by a medical professional.
The second proposal is to protect victims of domestic violence from being listed on a tenancy database by agents or landlords where a debt or property damage arose because of a violent partner.
Helen West, the coordinator for Wagga Women's Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service said it’s really important that people have the opportunity to break the lease when they're in a domestic violence situation.
“Otherwise they are forced to stay in a situation that's volatile,” she said.
“Then they become homeless and unable to get a tenancy because of their listing and sometimes the only place is a refuge.”
Minister for Better Regulation Matt Kean said the proposed changes to the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 will help tackle the scourge of domestic and family violence.
“These stronger measures will enable tenants to escape domestic violence much faster, as a provisional AVO or declaration by a medical professional can be obtained without the added trauma of appearing in court,” he said.
Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Pru Goward said NSW is again leading the way in domestic violence policy by ensuring victims can swiftly leave their violent partners.
“We know the time when a victim decides to leave a violent relationship can be incredibly dangerous, and when they are at their most vulnerable,” Ms Goward said.
“These changes aim to get rid of the red tape and streamline the system to support domestic violence victims to leave a rented home, and most importantly find safety as soon as possible.”
Under the previous laws, victims of domestic violence on a fixed term lease had to give 14 days notice to their landlord if a co-tenant or occupant is prohibited by a final AVO from having access to the property.