Agatha was living as a co-tenant in public housing along with her two adult children when her daughter Jane’s partner, Sam, moved in. Agatha was pressured into allowing Sam to become a co-tenant. Shortly afterwards, he began using violence against her, including verbal threats and economic abuse.
When the violence escalated, Agatha was forced to flee the premises. Despite telling the Office of Housing (OOH) she was not safe there, Agatha wasn’t deemed eligible for a reduced rental payment because the OOH’s previous temporary absence policy didn’t accommodate absence due to family violence. This meant Agatha kept paying her rent to the OOH while homeless.
Sam was not paying his rent and as the arrears kept accruing, the OOH issued a notice to vacate and applied to VCAT to evict all the tenants. Agatha applied for an IVO on her own, and obtained an interim order with limited conditions. She then contacted Homeless Law who helped her to negotiate with the OOH to put a hold on eviction proceedings until her IVO application could be finalised.
This took over four months because Sam contested Agatha’s application. When the IVO was eventually finalised with a clause excluding Sam, Homeless Law helped Agatha apply under section 233A of the Residential Tenancies Act to take over the lease as a sole tenant, and to have her temporary absence due to family violence retrospectively approved, which led to a reduction in the amount of outstanding arrears.