Ending a lease can be stressful, especially if you need to leave your rented premises before the fixed term lease has ended. Below is a quick guide to ending your lease.
Ending a lease before the fixed term has passed
If you want to end your lease before the fixed term has ended, you may be liable for certain costs.
Lease Break Fees
First, you should check your rental agreement to see whether you have agreed to a break fee. For any lease that is three years or less in duration, the break fee is:
- 6 weeks’ rent if you break the lease in the first half of the fixed term (so that would be within the first 6 months if you have a 12 month lease),
- 4 weeks’ rent if you break the lease in the second half of the fixed term.
If you do have a break fee, you won’t have any further costs to pay to break the lease. However, you will still be liable for rent up until you leave the premises.
Other Costs and Fees
If you haven’t agreed to a break fee, you may be liable for other costs.
- The cost of rent up until the property is relet or the end of your fixed term lease (whichever comes first), and
- Part of the advertising costs and reletting fee (if the property is rented through an agent).
The amount of advertising and reletting fee that you pay should be equal to how long you have left on the lease. For example, if you have been in a house for 6 months and your lease is 12 months, then you can expect to pay half of these costs.
However, there are some circumstances under which you can end a lease early without being liable for costs.
You can give 14 days’ written notice to end your lease if:
- The house you are living in has been put on the market for sale and you were not told that it would be sold before you signed the lease.
- You will be moving into social housing.
- You will be moving into an aged care residence (not a retirement village).
- You have obtained a final apprehended violence order (AVO) against someone living with you that means they can no longer live there.
You can give 21 days’ written notice to end your lease if:
- You share the tenancy with a co-tenant who has passed away.
- You have a fixed term rental agreement of more than 2 years and you have been given notice of a rent increase.
In these circumstances, you will only be liable for rent up until the notice period has ended and you have vacated the premises.
Ending a lease because the landlord has breached the rental agreement
If your landlord has breached the rental agreement (for example, by not keeping the house in reasonable working order) then you may be able to end the lease without penalty.
If the breach is serious, you can either:
- Give the landlord 14 days’ notice in writing that you will be ending the lease. The landlord may apply to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal if they disagree.
- Apply to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal for the lease to be terminated.
Giving notice of leaving at the end of the lease
If your fixed term lease is coming to an end and you would like to vacate the premises, you must give a minimum of 14 days’ written notice to your landlord or real estate agent. You can give the notice any time up until the final day of the lease.
If your fixed term lease has ended and you haven’t yet signed a new lease, you must give 21 days’ written notice.
Ending a lease through mutual agreement
You and your landlord can agree to end the lease at any time if you mutually agree in writing.
Apply to end a lease due to hardship
If you would suffer severe hardship if you were to continue to be liable for your lease, you can apply to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal to have the lease terminated. You will need to keep paying rent until the Tribunal has determined the outcome of your application.
The Tribunal will need to be satisfied that the hardship you are facing is serious and that you weren’t facing the hardship when you moved into the premises.
How to give written notice
You cannot give written notice via email or text message.
You need to deliver the written notice by:
- Handing it to your landlord or real estate agent in person.
- Handing your notice to someone over 16 years of age at your landlord’s premises or the real estate agency.
- Putting the notice in your landlord or real estate agents letterbox in an envelope addressed to them.
- Posting the notice to your landlord or real estate agent at their nominated address.
- Faxing the notice to your landlord or real estate agent.
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