The affected person has the right to leave public housing for a short time due to family violence, without fear of losing their home. This is called a temporary absence.

What you can do

If the affected person has to leave public housing due to family violence you should:

  • notify the Director of Housing as soon as possible
  • do it in advance if possible, especially if they will be away for more than six weeks
  • do it in writing, they can use the Temporary absence form [HOUSING.vic.gov.au]
  • keep a copy of the letter or form.

What the policies say

  • Advanced notice is not required if there is an intervention order and either the affected person or perpetrator has to leave immediately.
  • Other household members can stay on with the tenant’s permission (or without their permission if the tenant is the perpetrator).
  • The Director of Housing will discuss the temporary absence with the affected person, household members, and support worker (if applicable) to get information such as:
    • the date the affected person left
    • how long they expect to be away
    • the date they expect to return
    • if they have to pay for temporary housing

Reduced rent for temporary absence

In cases of temporary absences due to family violence, the Director of Housing may reduce the rent to $15 per week. This is done to reduce the financial hardship on tenants, especially if the affected person needs to pay for temporary housing somewhere else or if they have no income during this time.

What the policies say

The Director of Housing looks at individual situations for affected persons and takes action to support their tenancy, such as:

  • reducing rent during the temporary absence;
  • increasing the rent rebate during the temporary absence based on the income of remaining household members only;
    Note: If someone moves in to care for dependents (such as children) that person’s income will not be counted as household income if they can show their main home is somewhere else.
  • changing any debt repayments (for example, rental arrears) during the temporary absence;

Extending the temporary absence

What you can do

If the affected person needs to stay away for longer than six months (and no other household members are living there) you should:

  • request an extension before the end of the first six-month absence
  • do it at your local housing office
  • do it in writing
  • keep a copy of the letter or form.

What the policies say

  • Extensions are only approved in exceptional circumstances.
  • The Director of Housing will consider situations of family violence and the impact on the tenant if the extension is not approved.
  • If the extension is not approved and the tenants do not return to the public housing, the Director of Housing may take steps to end the tenancy starting with giving the tenants a Notice to Vacate.

Find out more

Tenancy Maintenance Manual, Temporary Absence operational guidelines, July 2017 [DHHS website]

This information is a guide only and should not be used as a substitute for professional legal advice.

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