Page 984 - Week 04 - Tuesday, 15 March 2005

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It will not apply, for example, to a situation where there is a domestic violence order that does not address the residential arrangements of the parties. This will commonly be the situation where the relationship between the parties has broken down and one party has already left the premises. In these cases, the court will not make a kick out order against the perpetrator of the violence, but will make an order limiting contact between the parties, or regulating the contact that the offending party has with any children of the relationship. In this kind of situation, it is appropriate that the lease transfers to the occupant of the house, but the provision put forward, does not allow for this.

Our amendment has been constructed to allow the provision to operate at the discretion of the tribunal in this and other similar circumstances. Unfortunately, there remains to be addressed the issue which was raised by Kerry Tucker during the August 2004 consideration of the residential tenancies legislation. She said then:

The other major outstanding issue is for victims of domestic violence who are left with the tenancy and with liability for rent and possible damage to the house if the offending party leaves a residence or is legally forced to leave. The person who has been assaulted should not be left to cope alone with either the cost of the house or the cost of the damage.

It is disappointing that the government has not seen fit to address this matter in this round of amendments. Our other major concern with the legislation relates to the extension of section 51 (c) to allow a tenant to be immediately evicted where there has been serious or continuous interference with the quiet enjoyment of nearby premises. It is our firm view that the remedy of immediate removal should be limited to situations where the matters needing to be addressed are such that they require immediate action and involve some danger to person or property. If there has been continuous interference with the quiet enjoyment of a neighbour, this can reasonably be addressed by the usual remedies for breach, which allow for the tenant to be given notice of breach and four weeks in which to leave. There is here no real urgency that would warrant summary eviction of a tenant. The government here has taken a sledgehammer approach to an issue which could sensibly be addressed with a little more finesse and a greater recognition of the difficulty that an evicted tenant will have in obtaining a new home. Our amendment will provide an alternative approach to the protection of neighbours, which is more consistent with the schema of the act and the balancing of the rights of tenants and landlords.

I turn now to some general comments on aspects of this bill. We believe these issues need further action. The introduction of a postings clause has been on the cards for some years and reflects the number of applications that are made to the tribunal inserting a provision for postings to end leases. It will be inserted into the act so that it is an option rather than in the standard tenancy terms. It is important that tenants and landlords are aware that it will be an optional term. It is also important that the minister makes it clear that a posting is a mandatory relocation, not someone taking advantage of a career opportunity. While the term may well be understood commercially, in the context of law, there is no harm in being explicit. I trust the minister can also make that same point when he closes the debate.

There are some extensive provisions regarding crisis accommodation. The reality will be that in most crisis accommodation centres the occupancy agreement will be used and

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