Can I end a residential lease early?

Published 01 Feb 2019

When you sign into a fixed term tenancy, you essentially commit to living on the premises for the full duration of the agreement. Unfortunately, circumstances can change and you can find yourself wanting to terminate your lease early. The best case scenario is for the tenant and landlord to come to an agreement of mutual consent to terminate the tenancy with no strings attached, however this often isn't the case.

For whatever reason you're considering leaving your current residential lease, there is potential for a few hidden costs to appear throughout the process.

What costs could be involved?

During the initial signing of the tenancy agreement, you should have been made aware whether a Break Fee existed within your contract. This fee is a predetermined amount that is to be paid by the tenant if they choose to leave the lease early, and may differ in price depending on how long you have been a tenant.

If the duration of the fixed term agreement is less than three years, you'll need to pay six weeks rent if you are currently in the first half of the term, and only four weeks if you are in the second half. If the fixed term is longer than three years, you and your landlord need to have had an existing amount written into the agreement at the time of signing.

If there is no break fee in the contract, a landlord is able to ask for compensation to cover losses incurred by your departure. This may be covering advertising costs, or to make up for the loss of rent in a lump sum payment. If an agreement hasn't been reached by either party, your landlord may be able to claim back your bond or may take the issue further to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

What if the situation is beyond my control?

Life often throws us unexpected curveballs, and our living situations aren't exempt from this. In certain circumstances, you may be able to end your agreement early without penalty pay, provided you give a 14-day written notice to your landlord. These situations may include:

  • Being put into assisted living, such as aged care.
  • Accepting social housing.
  • Obtaining an apprehended violence order against a housemate.
  • The landlord has decided to sell the house, unbeknownst to you at the time of signing the lease.

A 21-day notice can be given if one of your co-tenants dies or if you have been given a rent increase notice and your fixed term is over two years.

Malouf Solicitors have extensive knowledge in property law, and can provide professional advice and support for a range of legal enquiries. Get in touch with our team today.

Please call us on 02 8833 2000 to speak with a lawyer

Dear Anthony & Kym. Thank you for all your help and support in our matter. It is a big relief to us that it is over. Please also thank your staff, Myla and Lina etc for all their help. It has been a pleasure working with you all, the subject matter notwithstanding. With best wishes and regards,
Nick of Parramatta

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