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Home of Your Own

A self help tool for renters affected by family violence

Dealing with damage or unpaid rent when leaving

Options to avoid the financial burden of damage or unpaid rent because of family violence, when you want to leave the home.

If I move out, do I need to keep paying rent?
If you need to leave your home because of family violence, and you are still listed in the rental agreement, you will still be responsible for paying rent.

If you leave because of family violence, we recommend that you end the rental agreement, or have your name removed, before leaving or soon after leaving to avoid being held responsible for unpaid rent or other costs.

Read more about how you can end the rental agreement or have your name removed. 

Do I have to pay for any unpaid rent or damage?
The rental provider may apply to VCAT for your bond or for compensation if there is unpaid rent or damage to the property at the end of your rental agreement.

Usually, it is the shared responsibility of all renters to pay these costs. However, if the unpaid rent or damage happened because of family violence, VCAT may order that you are not responsible for paying these costs.

The strongest protections against having to pay for damage caused by family violence are available if you apply to end your rental agreement because of family violence. For this reason, if you are thinking of leaving due to family violence, we recommend you consider applying to VCAT to end your rental agreement.

If the rental provider applies to VCAT for compensation for any unpaid rent at the end of your rental agreement, you can ask VCAT to make an order that you are not responsible for paying these costs because you left due to family violence. VCAT may order that you owe some unpaid rent and damage or VCAT may determine that the person using violence is responsible for all of the unpaid rent and damage. 

If your rental provider is seeking compensation through VCAT, you should get legal help about your options. 

Can my bond be taken by the rental provider?
Your bond is typically refunded to you at the end of a rental agreement.

If the rental provider has applied to VCAT for your bond due to unpaid rent or damage, VCAT can make orders about how your bond is used.

Where the loss or damage was caused by family violence, you can ask VCAT to protect your portion of the bond.

If the person using violence is on the rental agreement, VCAT can order that they are liable to pay all the costs which protects your share of the bond. VCAT can make this order without an intervention order or family violence safety notice.

If the person using violence is not on the rental agreement, then you will need an intervention order or family violence safety notice for your bond to be protected.

What if the unpaid rent or damage is more than the bond?
The rental provider may apply to VCAT for compensation if there is unpaid rent or damage to the property at the end of your rental agreement and the amount is more than the bond will cover. Rental providers can apply for both bond and compensation at the same time.

If your rental provider is asking for compensation through VCAT, you should get legal help to understand your options. 

You can get free legal help about what your options are if the rental provider is seeking compensation. They may also be able to represent you at any VCAT hearing. 

The VCAT family violence workers can give you information about your options and help you to prepare for any VCAT hearing. 

See our list of services, for free legal, family violence and housing support.     

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