This information is a guide and should not be used as a substitute for professional legal advice.

Family violence

There are protections for people affected by family violence in Victoria’s rental laws. This page summarises measures including protecting bonds and making safety modifications. There is more detailed information in our Family Violence Protection Tenancy Kit, also on this page.

Protections for renters

The information on this page and in our Tenants Victoria Family Violence Kit aims to help people in rental housing to know their rights, have a secure home and limit any financial losses

Family Violence Protection Tenancy Kit

Tenants Victoria’s informative Family Violence Protection Tenancy Kit contains detailed information about protections in renting laws for people affected by family violence.

Topics include:

  • Changing the locks and other safety modifications
  • Getting an intervention order
  • Staying in the rental property, or leaving it
  • Privacy restrictions for inspections and other entries into your home
  • Information for public housing renters
  • Preventing tenant database listings
  • Hearings at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT)
Family Violence Protection Tenancy Kit

Intervention orders

An intervention order is a court order to protect a person, their children and their property from another person’s behaviour.

If you experience violence from a family member, partner or ex-partner, you can apply for a family violence intervention order.

Rental agreements (leases)

If you are affected by family violence, whether or not you are on a rental agreement, you can apply to VCAT to either remove the perpetrator of the violence from the rental agreement or to remove yourself from it if you wish.

An intervention order is not required. However, you should still consider obtaining one for safety reasons. You can apply to VCAT without the consent of the rental provider.

VCAT must hear the application urgently, within 3 days of it being made. It can order the end of rental agreement entirely, or require the rental provider (landlord) to enter a new lease with you.

In making its decision, VCAT must consider the hardship you and any dependent children might suffer, and whether this hardship would be greater than the rental provider’s hardship, as well as considering if you can fulfil your duties under the lease.

Changing the locks

You do not need the consent of the rental provider to change any external door or window lock if the lock is not part of a master key system.

If you have an intervention order against someone who is a renter at your address, you can get the locks changed even if your name is not on the rental agreement.

If your name is not on the rental agreement and you want to stay at that address, you can apply to VCAT to have a rental agreement created in your name.

Safety modifications

You can make some modifications to a rented home without needing consent from the rental provider (landlord). These including installation of security lights, alarm systems, and CCTV systems that are not hardwired.

The law further provides that the rental provider cannot unreasonably withhold consent for other modifications that will increase safety and security – such as hardwired security lights, alarm systems and other safety devices.

Sales inspections

If you are a ‘protected person’ under an intervention order, the law allows you to require any inspection held at the property be by appointment only, and not by an open inspection. Intervention orders include: Family Violence Intervention Order, Family Violence Safety Notice, Personal Safety Intervention Order, and recognised non-local Domestic Violence Order.

Photos and videos

You can object to photos or videos intended for advertising being taken, if they might identify someone living at the property who is at risk of family or personal violence.

No intervention order is required to make the objection, but it must be in writing and given to the rental provider or agent.

Once this written notice has been given, the rental provider or agent must not take any photos or videos that you object to. If any photos or videos are taken, you can ask to review them before they are used to advertise the property.

If you have asked to review any photos or video the rental provider, or agent, must not use them before they have been reviewed. They would need your written consent to use them.

If it has been more than 12 months since photos or videos were taken for advertising purposes, the rental provider or the agent must get the affected person’s written consent before they can be used.

Notices to vacate

If the rental provider or real estate agent gives you a notice to vacate for an act or breach that was caused by someone who subjected you to family or personal violence, you can apply to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) to challenge it.

Challenges on the grounds of family or personal violence can be made for the following notices to vacate:

  • Damage
  • Danger
  • Threats and intimidation
  • Failure to follow a VCAT order
  • Breaching a duty after having received two previous breach-of-duty notices for the same breach
  • Using the property for an illegal purpose
  • Drug related conduct in public housing

Bonds

Where a rental provider makes a claim for your bond in situations involving family violence, VCAT can make orders that protect your bond if the loss, including rent arrears, or damage the rental provider is claiming for, was caused by the perpetrator of the family violence.

It is also not always necessary for you to have an intervention order in place for VCAT to make these orders.

The orders VCAT can make include orders that the perpetrator’s share of the bond be used to pay for unpaid rent bills or damage, and not from your share of the bond.

If you do not have a copy of the bond receipt, you can call the Residential Tenancies Bond Authority (RTBA) on 1300 137 164 and ask for the bond number. The bond number can be used on the RTBA website to get written confirmation of the bond details.

Residential Tenancies Bond Authority

Where to get help

Specialist services are available for people experiencing family and personal violence.

The Orange Door
Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria
inTouch
Djirra

Also see Consumer Affairs Victoria for information on protections for renters on changing the rental agreement (lease) because of family violence and changing the locks.

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