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11 May 2023
Tenants wanting to end a fixed-term tenancy agreement before the end date (breaking lease) should find it easier in the current tight rental market as it will generally be easier for the lessor to find new tenants. If you want to break lease, you need to be aware you are breaking a contract and will possibly need to pay reasonable costs.
Tenants can end a tenancy agreement early without breaking lease or incurring costs in certain circumstances.
This bulletin answers some common questions about breaking lease, including what costs a lessor can pass onto you.
You should notify the lessor/agent you want to break lease in writing, as soon as possible. This way, you can both be better prepared and reduce potential costs. If you wait too long to notify the lessor/agent about your intentions, you may be stuck paying the property’s rent for much longer than you want to.
If the lessor agrees to you ending the tenancy early, you should give them a specific moving out date so they can start finding a suitable replacement tenant.
Keep a record of all your communications with the lessor/agent, including any key points and dates. This way you can refer back to your conversations and avoid disagreements.
No. You must continue paying rent until your lease officially ends, even if you’ve moved out or until a replacement tenant is able to move in, whichever happens first.
Check with your lessor/agent when you can expect to stop paying rent, and when they will need you to vacate. You don’t have to vacate while you’re still paying rent.
If you stop paying rent during the term of your tenancy agreement, the lessor can seek the money you owe through court and list you on a tenancy database for the debt until the rent is paid up. This can make it difficult for you to find a new rental.
Even if the lessor hasn’t acted fairly, you can’t respond by not paying rent. You can lodge a complaint with Consumer Protection and we may be able to assist you and the lessor to come to an agreement.
Besides lost rent, the lessor may incur some costs as a result of you breaking lease, for example the cost of advertising the property. You can be asked to pay these costs. The lessor/agent must do what they can to reduce their costs, including advertising the property quickly. In a tight rental market the lessor isn’t likely to lose much income and may even gain some by charging the replacement tenant a higher rent.
The lessor cannot ask you to pay the usual end of tenancy expenses such as the final inspection.
If you are not sure about an amount the lessor/agent is charging you, ask for more information. Any costs must be reasonable and incurred as a result of you breaking lease. You can object to anything which falls outside of this criteria.
Some helpful sources of information are:
Once you have the necessary information, write to the lessor/agent respectfully and explain why you disagree with the cost. Try to settle this with a written agreement before committing to ending your lease, if you can. If you are unable to reach an agreement with your lessor or agent, please contact Consumer Protection on 1300 30 40 54 or by emailing email@example.com, as we may be able to help you and the lessor reach agreement.
Your bond should be returned to you as normal. The lessor can take out money to cover the cost of any damage you’ve caused to the property, but this doesn’t include normal wear and tear, like worn-out carpet or faded curtains. Your lessor can also take out money to cover any unpaid accounts you still need to pay under the terms of your lease agreement, such as outstanding rent, water usage, lawn mowing fees etc.
The lessor is generally responsible for the costs of improvements or maintenance they want to do.
You can use the sample letter in our Renting a home in Western Australia – a tenant’s guide to write to the lessor/agent if you disagree with any proposed bond deductions.
As with all tenancies, you need to return the property clean and tidy, and in its original condition, besides normal wear and tear. The lessor can have you meet the cost of cleaning and minor repairs if they’re needed.
There are two different types of shared tenancy being co-tenancy and rooming arrangements. In terms of breaking lease, rooming arrangements are very similar to living alone as you have your own tenancy agreement with the lessor and not a shared one with other tenants.
Co-tenants and tenants who have signed the same tenancy agreement have some extra considerations. You can find more information about changing co-tenants during a fixed-term agreement on our Co-tenancy (renting with other people) page.
In some cases, the lessor may want to break lease because they are experiencing a significant change in circumstances and may experience undue hardship if the tenancy were to continue.
You don’t have to agree with the lessor’s request to break lease. If you do agree, you might ask them to cover some costs of having to move house unexpectedly.
The lessor can pursue an order from the Magistrates Court to break lease if they satisfy certain conditions. In this case, they will probably be ordered to pay reasonable moving costs for you.
Visit our website for more information about renting a home, or contact Consumer Protection on 1300 30 40 54 or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your query.