Since February 2019, tenants in circumstances of domestic violence are able to end their tenancies by serving a termination notice, with relevant evidence, and vacating.
Further, since December 2020, more professionals are able to make a declaration to help renters who are escaping a domestic violence situation
Please get advice from your local Tenants' Advice Service before taking action under these provisions.
What do the provisions do?
- Tenants in circumstances of domestic violence can now end their tenancies by serving a DV termination notice (see Ending tenancy due to domestic violence sample letter), with relevant evidence, and vacating.
- A victim-survivor of domestic violence will be protected from breach fees and costs for property damage in some circumstances.
- A landlord or agent will not be allowed to list information about a tenant in a tenancy database when the tenant has terminated the agreement in circumstances of domestic violence.
How do the provisions work?
If you can answer ‘yes’ to all of the following four questions, you should be able to end your tenancy for domestic violence:
Q1. Has there been domestic violence (DV) in your household?
The victim of the violence may be a tenant or co-tenant or a dependent child of a tenant or co-tenant.
Q2. Are you either a tenant or co-tenant?
Tenant includes sub-tenant.
Q3. Do you want to leave?
Q4. Do you have relevant evidence?
- Copy of a certificate of conviction of a DV offence OR
- Copy of a DV Order (need not be final) OR
- Copy of a Family Law Act 1975 injunction per section 68B or 114 of that Act OR
- Declaration by competent person in the required form, that you or your dependent child are a victim of domestic violence. The form is in Schedule 3 of the Regulations as well as on Fair Trading's website:
Competent persons can be Doctors, Social Workers, DV Workers, Child Welfare workers and Sexual Assault Workers – see the form for details.
If the answers to all 4 questions above are ‘yes’ you can:
- Draft a DV termination notice – see a sample letter here
- Attach the relevant evidence to the notice for the landlord or agent – see Q4 above.
- Serve the notice – on the landlord or agent and all other tenants*
- Vacate the premises – keys can be given to the landlord or agent
* The evidence document need not be attached to the notices for other tenants.
Then the process for terminating your tenancy is complete. Keep copies of everything in case the landlord later challenges the validity of the termination.
When you have terminated your tenancy in this way:
- You do not have to pay a break fee or compensation to the landlord for ending your tenancy early
- You must not be listed on a residential tenancy database
- The evidence you have used is confidential, it must be stored and disposed of securely by all other parties
- You may be protected from liability to pay for DV damage to the premises
- Other tenants can apply to the Tribunal for termination of their tenancies
- Remaining non-perpetrator co-tenants have short term (2 weeks) relief from paying more than their usual share of the rent
Tips and notes from Tenants Advocates
- Co-tenants are jointly and severally liable for rent and damage**
- Tenants are liable for the conduct of guests/invitees at the premises**
- Always inform the landlord or agent in writing when there is damage to the premises
- Always get details of police attendance – eg names and event numbers
- Get advice before taking action to end your tenancy for DV
** The DV provisions provide limited exceptions
Infosheet updated September 2022
This infosheet is intended as a guide to the law and should not be used as a substitute for legal advice. It applies to people who live in, or are affected by, the law as it applies in New South Wales, Australia. ©Tenants’ Union NSW.