If you are not safe in your home due to domestic or family violence you may be able to terminate your tenancy early. It can be possible to negotiate with the Agent or Landlord to leave the tenancy early or the South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (SACAT) can terminate the tenancy early.
Tenancy matters are governed by the Residential Tenancy Act 1995 SA.
If you are not feeling safe in your tenancy due to domestic or family violence please call 1800 246 642 to get free legal advice.
SACAT can make orders when there has been domestic or family violence between people who are jointly named on a lease.
Staying at the property
If a survivor of domestic or family violence wants to remain at the home, SACAT can order that the landlord enter into a new lease in the survivor’s sole name. This outcome would mean the perpetrator of the domestic and family violence would no longer have permission to live at the property.
Leaving the property
If a survivor of domestic or family violence wants to leave the tenancy, then SACAT can terminate the lease. SACAT does not have the ability to force the landlord to enter into a new lease with a domestic or family violence perpetrator. It would be up to the landlord if the entered into a new lease in that person’s sole name.
In ordinary joint tenancy situations, when there is damage to the property, both parties are responsible for the cost to repair the damage. When there has been domestic or family violence, SACAT has the ability to Order only the perpetrator, who caused the damage, be liable for the cost in repairing those damages.
This ensures that the survivor is not paying costs for damage caused during the incidents of abuse they have been subjected to.
SACAT can make orders where there has been domestic or family violence and only the survivor of the domestic or family violence is named on a lease.
Leaving the property
If you are no longer safe in your tenancy due to domestic violence and would face hardship if you remained at the property, SACAT can terminate the tenancy early. SACAT can terminate a lease even if the perpetrator is not a resident at the property.
When the tenancy is in a person’s sole name, that tenant is responsible to the landlord for any damage to that property, even if they did not cause the damage themselves.
SACAT does not have the ability to order the perpetrator of abuse to pay costs towards damage they have caused to a property if they are not a tenant on the lease.
If a partner or family member damages your property it is important to report to police. Some landlord insurance will cover costs if there is a police report, which would then reduce any costs passed onto the tenant.
If someone causes damage to the property you are the sole tenant to, and you have to pay costs to the landlord, you may have a potential civil claim against the person who caused the damage. We recommend you call 1300 366 424 to obtain legal advice on your options.
Even in domestic and family violence situations the Landlord is still able to claim break lease and advertising costs.
Landlords have the ability to agree to waive costs in domestic violence situations.
SACAT does not have the ability to waive costs owed to the landlord without their permission. This means it is always a good idea to try and negotiate with the landlord or the Agent to reduce any costs.
A bond is provided at the start of a tenancy to cover any unexpected costs when a tenancy ends, this includes break lease costs, unpaid rent and cost for damages. If costs are payable to the landlord then those costs will first be taken from the bond.
If costs are owed to the landlord, either by agreement or by SACAT order, then it will be taken from the bond. It is very rare for a tenant breaking a lease early to receive their whole bond back. It does not matter who paid the bond, if it was one tenant or both, any costs will come from that bond.
If the only costs being claimed are break lease or advertising costs then SACAT does not have the ability to make the perpetrator pay for those costs, it will be taken from the bond.
If the survivor of domestic or family violence paid the full bond then they may have a civil claim against the perpetrator if a claim was made on the bond due to the perpetrators abusive behaviour.
Housing SA can provide bond guarantee’s to help people obtain housing. Housing SA have a policy that if the landlord is awarded the bond due to costs arising from domestic or family violence they will not request the person pay that bond to Housing SA.
Housing SA requires proof of domestic or family violence to waive this cost. This can be through an Intervention Order, support letter from a domestic violence support service, support letter from a friend or family who has witnessed the violence, or an order from SACAT confirming the tenancy ended due to domestic violence.
If you have received a letter from Housing SA requesting you pay back the bond, but you left due to domestic or family violence, please call 1800 246 642 to get advice.
Agents and Landlords can list a tenant on a database if the tenancy ends with a debt owing to the landlord. This database can then affect a person getting future tenancies.
Most Agents will not list a tenant on a database if the costs are covered by the bond. They generally only list a tenant on this database when the costs exceed the bond amount.
SACAT has the ability to order the Agent or Landlord not list a tenant on this database when there has been domestic or family violence.