Domestic violence can manifest itself in any violent, intimidating or abusive behaviours that instil fear within a spouse. Such behaviours don’t have to be physical.
Oft times, any emotional or psychologically disturbing behaviours will suffice.
In order to ascertain an abusive relationship from one that is not, one must be aware of what each type of abuse entails:
- Physical abuse involves the use of force, which causes or could potentially cause physical and external harm to another.
- Emotional abuse encapsulates any behaviour that is psychologically destructive to another and causes one to feel as though they have little self worth.
Both types of abuse cause the victim to be in a constant state of fear.
Domestic Violence and your rights as a tenant:
One of the biggest issues concerning people that are in abusive relationships is tenancy, which can potentially work to discourage victims from taking action.
Therefore, it is important to have a good grasp of options available to individuals in this predicament.
Essentially, if you decide to stay at a premises while renting it with an abusive partner, you may take action to end their tenancy.
Alternatively, leaving the premises will mean ending your own tenancy, without the same effect befalling the perpetrator.
However, both options are influenced by a number of other factors:
Staying in an Abusive home and Tenancy rights:
By ordering an Apprehended Domestic Violence Order (ADVO) against the abusive tenant, the abuser’s tenancy could potentially be terminated, provided that the ADVO contains exclusion orders.
Exclusion orders work to extricate you from your abusive partner by lawfully ordering them to be removed or excluded from the premises.
A magistrate, if it is requested in the application for the ADVO, can grant exclusion orders. If you are a head or co-tenant with your partner, your tenancy will remain intact.
However, if you are a sub-tenant or a boarder/lodger, your tenancy agreement will also terminate.
But this can be easily remedied by applying to the N.S.W Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) for recognition of your tenancy.
Staying without an ADVO filed against the abusive tenant, requires you to apply to NCAT to consider the special circumstances of the case and terminate the tenancy status of the other tenant. Thus, filing an ADVO against the abusive spouse is more effective in terms of terminating their right to reside at the premises.
Leaving an Abusive home and Tenancy rights:
The ADVO also works to terminate your own tenancy if you decide to leave and the excluded spouse is the head tenant of the premises.
Once an ADVO is served containing exclusion orders, this effectively ends the receiving party’s tenancy and if that party is a head tenant, your tenancy will also be automatically terminated – allowing you to leave the premises as well.
If you give your landlord a 14-day termination notice to let them know that you are ending your tenancy early, you will not have to compensate them.
You can also give your landlord notice of termination without filing an ADVO.
If you are a sub-tenant, you can give notice on the grounds that the head-tenant (which may be your spouse) has interfered with your ‘reasonable peace, comfort and privacy’.
If your spouse is not the head-tenant, you can give notice on the grounds that the head-tenant has allowed another occupant to interfere with your ‘reasonable peace, comfort and privacy’. Alternatively, you can also transfer your tenancy to someone else – provided that they are 18 years of age and over.
You can also apply to NCAT for an order to terminate your tenancy because of the special circumstances of the situation, so that you are no longer subject to a life in the same house as the abusive spouse.
However, this is just a brief overview of the various options one can undertake to deal with this issue.
You can refer to the following website to view the intricacies of domestic violence and tenancy: http://www.tenants.org.au/factsheet-12-domestic-violence
A downloadable PDF with more information on Exclusion Orders is also available by clicking : http://www.community.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0008/318950/dv_advo_english.pdf
If you need to speak to a experienced lawyer on this matter – Call ETB Legal on (02) 9188 9669 or Mobile: 0412 915 247