New Tenancy Laws come into effect in New South Wales as of today allowing victims of domestic abuse to end their lease straight away and without financial penalties. It also allows medical professionals to declare that tenants or their children are victims of domestic violence.

Under the law changes, tenants who provide a domestic violence termination notice along with one of several forms of evidence, now including a declaration by a medical practitioner will not have to pay any remaining rent or other fees that often go along with ending a lease early.

To protect the privacy of victims, details of the domestic violence termination notice are not allowed to be disclosed by anyone who receives it, including landlords not being able to put the tenant on any sort of list or database for ending their lease early.

There are also measures in place to protect any remaining co-tenants who weren’t the perpetrators of violence, such as having a two week grace period to continue paying only their usual share of the rent. You can read the full details here.

It’s a change that was desperately needed, and still is in the rest of Australia. According to a 2016 report by the federal Department of Social Services, in that year alone over 1 million women had to deal with violence, emotional abuse, and stalking. The cost of this violence against women and their kids was $22 billion in 2015 to 2016, $11.3 billion of which had to be covered by the victims themselves.

Until now New South Wales held the same laws as all states and territories in Australia, besides Western Australia, which required a domestic abuse victim to go through the process of applying to a tribunal or court for an order before they could end a lease early. Western Australia previously had no regulations but proposed similar changes to these new NSW ones in late 2017.

Image: iStock Images / [matt_scherf]