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Suffered Domestic Violence and need to know Tenancy Rights

This article looks at the problem of domestic violence in relation to rental tenancies. It aims to offer advice to tenants experiencing domestic violence and outlines the options and laws which may affect them.

What can I do if domestic violence affects my tenancy?

Domestic violence is not acceptable. Any person suffering from domestic violence is advised to seek advice and support from an independent organization that specializes in domestic abuse.

Organizations dedicated to helping victims of domestic violence can give you information on how best to deal with the problem.

In terms of your tenancy agreement there are a number of options open to you, these depend on the type of tenancy you have and whether you intend to remain at the property and require the perpetrator to leave or you are considering leaving the property yourself.

Types of tenancies:

The type of tenancy you have may affect your options. Fixed term agreements and periodic agreements may have different clauses regarding leaving the property or removing a co-tenant from the property so it is important to check the details on your agreement.

Your tenancy status may also affect the outcome in terms of which party will leave the property. For example, the head tenant or co-tenant has more chance of staying on at the property than a boarder or lodger. With this in mind it is important to understand your tenancy status and what rights you have under your agreement.

Staying in the property with & without an AVO:

What is an AVO?

An AVO is an apprehended violence order. These orders are not criminal charges but they are put in place by a court to prevent one person from certain actions against another for the purpose of protection and safety. AVOs are common in cases of domestic violence and if the conditions outlined in an order are broken by the defendant then they may be taken into custody and charged as appropriate.

With an AVO:

If you want to continue with your tenancy and remain at the property you will be required to take the necessary steps to end the tenancy of the perpetrator, (the person who is committing the domestic violence) this may be your co-tenant, sub-tenant, lodger or any other person who shares your home. The most common methods of ending the tenancy of the perpetrator are by obtaining an AVO against them which includes an exclusion order or by applying to the CTTT for an order to remove them from the property.

If the perpetrator of domestic violence is a tenant and they receive a final AVO with an exclusion order this ends their tenancy. If their tenancy is terminated as a result of an AVO, this will also affect your tenancy. How this affects you depends largely on your tenancy status.

If you are head tenant or co –tenant your tenancy will continue.

If you are the sub- tenant or lodger your tenancy will continue. However, if the perpetrator was the head tenant whose agreement has now been terminated then your agreement will also end.

In this case you (and any other remaining occupants) may apply for an order from the CTTT which recognizes you as tenants under the original tenancy agreement.

In the event that you are not recognized as a tenant, the landlord is obliged to grant you 14 days to vacate the property.

Without an AVO:

If you want to remain at the property but were unable to obtain a final AVO you can apply to the CTTT for an order to terminate the perpetrator’s rental agreement.

If you are the head tenant:

You can apply to the CTTT for an order to terminate a sub-tenants agreement if they have persistently abused you or caused you injury. You can also ask that a sub-tenant or boarder is given a termination order to leave without the grounds mentioned above.

If you are a co-tenant:

You can apply to the CTTT for an order to terminate another co-tenant’s tenancy. Your individual circumstances regarding domestic violence will be taken into account.

If you are a sub-tenant:

If you experience domestic abuse as a sub-tenant the head tenant is in breach of your contract. Apply to the CTTT for an order stating that the perpetrator should be removed.

Leaving the property:

If you wish to end your tenancy and leave the property you are required to give your landlord a written termination notice. The notice depends on the circumstances and how the tenancy is ended.

If you have a fixed term agreement and a perpetrator is excluded by a final AVO during this agreement you should give your landlord a 14 day termination notice. You will not be required to compensate them for ending the agreement early.

Can I apply for a termination order?

Yes. You can apply to the CTTT for an order to terminate your tenancy if you are the head tenant, co-tenant or sub-tenant. The CTTT will consider the grounds of domestic violence in your case and how this would affect you should the tenancy continue.

Can I transfer my tenancy?

Yes. You are required to obtain your landlord’s written consent to transfer your tenancy to another person.


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