What to do when your residential lease is up

The laws that permit tenants to end their tenancy without penalty if they or their children are experiencing domestic violence are currently under review by the government of the state of New South Wales.

Have your say on the laws governing domestic violence in rental properties.
In the course of COVID-19, evictions

Tenancy agreements are legally binding contracts that can only be terminated in a limited number of circumstances.

It is common practice for either the landlord or the tenant to give notice to the other party in order to end a tenancy, with the tenant required to vacate the premises by the date specified in the termination notice.

When a tenancy is terminated, either the landlord or the tenant is responsible for providing the other party with a written termination notice that includes the required notice period.

In certain circumstances, either the landlord or the tenant may apply to the Tribunal for a termination order without first being required to serve the other party with a termination notice.

Minimum notice period

The length of the notice period is determined both by the type of agreement that was made (fixed-term or periodic) and the reasons that led to its termination.

These notice periods are intended to provide tenants with sufficient time to find a new rental property, as well as provide landlords with sufficient time to find a new tenant.

At any time during the tenancy, the landlord and tenant can mutually agree to terminate the lease.

The rationale behind the dismissal

An agreement with a fixed term and periodic payments

Minimum amount of notice a landlord is required to give

Tenant is required to give a minimum amount of notice.

Domestic violence

Either

N/A

None

The end of the agreement for a fixed term *

Fixed only

30 days

14 days

The conclusion of the recurring contract for no particular reason *

Exclusively periodic

90 days

21 days

The periodic employee or caretaker agreement has come to an end (no reason has been specified). *

Exclusively periodic

28 days

21 days

The landlord has signed a purchase agreement to sell the property, which calls for immediate vacant possession.

Exclusively periodic

30 days

N/A

Contravention of the agreement

Either

14 days

14 days (or apply to the Tribunal), whichever comes first.

A failure to pay the rent, the fees associated with using the water, or the utility charges

Either

14 days

N/A

A tenant or other occupant was responsible for causing significant damage or injury.

Either

None**

N/A

Tenant or other occupant committing illegal activity on the property

Either

None**

N/A

Threats, abuse, intimidation, or harassment from a tenant or other occupant of the property

Either

None**

N/A

Hardship

Either (the landowner)

(Tenant only) fixed only

None**

None**

Lengthy terms of tenancy

Periodic

None**

N/A

Those who continue to occupy the space after the tenancy has ended

N/A

14 days

N/A

Contravention of the information disclosure requirements of section 26

Either

N/A

14 days

Rent increases during the term of a fixed-term agreement that is at least two years long

Fixed only

N/A

21 days

(and this is before the rate of increase begins)

Early termination with no financial repercussions (i e moving into a facility for the elderly or into social housing, the landlord deciding to sell the property, or the property being listed on the LFAI register)

Fixed only

N/A

14 days

The co-tenant has decided to end their tenancy.

Exclusively periodic

N/A

21 days

The passing of a fellow tenant

Either

N/A

21 days

Due to the passing of the lone tenant

Either

None

None (stated by the authorized representative)

Compulsorily acquired property is property that has been demolished, rendered uninhabitable, or rendered useless.

Either

None

None

Other statutory justifications

N/A

Make your case before the Tribunal.

Make your case before the Tribunal.

*This provision is not applicable to occupants of the property who have been there for more than 20 years.

** There is no requirement for prior notice, but an application must be submitted to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (the Tribunal).

A notice of termination

A notice of termination needs to:

  • be in written form.
  • be dated and signed by the party that is delivering the notice.
  • Include the address of the property that is being rented.
  • Specify the day on which the tenancy agreement will be terminated (and by which the tenant will be required to vacate the premises), and
  • Include an explanation of the reasons for the termination (if there is one).

Notices of termination can be delivered at any time, and they are not required to coincide with the monthly rent payment cycle.

In the event that it is required, a landlord is able to issue a second termination notice based on grounds that are distinct from the first.

For instance, if a landlord provides a tenant with 90 days' notice before terminating a periodic tenancy for no stated reason, and then the tenant fails to pay rent for a period of 14 days, the landlord has the right to terminate the tenancy based on the tenant's failure to pay rent.

Sample notice of resignation or termination

Either the tenant or the landlord can write the notice on their own, or they can use one of our templates:

It is essential that the appropriate protocols be adhered to when serving a termination notice. For further information, please see the serving notice to tenants website.

When a tenant signs a lease with a fixed term, they are committing to staying in the unit for the entirety of the term.

If a tenant wishes to vacate the premises prior to the conclusion of the fixed term, there may be financial consequences.

A tenant has the right to terminate a lease agreement for a fixed term without incurring any fees in certain circumstances.

If a tenant needs to get out of their lease early for any reason, they are obligated to provide the landlord with as much notice as possible.

In addition to this, a tenant has the responsibility of making it as simple as possible for the landlord or agent to show the property to prospective new tenants.

Breach of a contract for a set period of time that was signed on March 23, 2020.

There is a possibility that you will be responsible for paying mandatory break fees, the amount of which is determined by the stage of the agreement.

A tenant who vacates the rental unit prior to the conclusion of the fixed term is responsible for paying a break fee.

If the mandatory break fee is applicable, the following is the set fee that must be paid:

  • If less than 25 percent of the agreement has been completed, the tenant is responsible for paying four weeks' worth of rent.
  • If the agreement has been violated for at least 25 percent but not more than 50 percent, the tenant is responsible for paying three weeks' worth of rent.
  • two weeks' rent is due if the agreement has been violated for more than half but fewer than three quarters of the time.
  • if the agreement has been violated for more than 75 percent, the tenant is responsible for one week's rent.

A landlord still has the option of pursuing compensation by filing a claim with the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (hereafter referred to as "the Tribunal").

These expenses might include the loss of rent, the cost of advertising, and, if the landlord works with an agent, a letting fee.

A mutually acceptable amount of compensation may be negotiated between the tenant and the landlord or agent.

In the event that the tenant and landlord are unable to come to an agreement regarding the amount of compensation, the landlord has the right to make a claim against the security deposit or apply to the Tribunal for an order requiring the tenant to pay the landlord a specific amount of compensation.

The landlord will be required to demonstrate to the Tribunal the steps that they took to minimize their losses in a reasonable manner (such as g putting up ads as soon as possible in search of a new tenant)

The previous rules are still in effect, and the parties should check the 'Additional terms' section of their agreement to determine whether or not it includes the optional break fee clause.

In the event that the break fee clause in the rental agreement has not been removed, the optional break fee clause will be put into effect. The amount of the break fee that must be paid will be either:

  1. six weeks' worth of rent in the event that the tenant vacates the property during the first half of the lease's term, or
  2. If the tenant vacates during the second half of the fixed-term agreement, the landlord is entitled to four weeks' worth of rent.

If the fixed-term agreement is for more than three years, the same optional break fee clause applies, unless the tenancy agreement specifies a break fee of a different amount.

If the clause regarding the break fee has been removed from the rental agreement, the optional break fee clause will not be in effect.

A landlord still has the option of submitting a claim for compensation to the Tribunal.

These expenses might include the loss of rent, the cost of advertising, and, if the landlord works with an agent, a letting fee.

A mutually acceptable amount of compensation may be negotiated between the tenant and the landlord or agent.

In the event that the tenant and landlord are unable to come to an agreement regarding the amount of compensation, the landlord has the right to make a claim against the security deposit or apply to the Tribunal for an order requiring the tenant to pay the landlord a specific amount of compensation.

The landlord is going to have to demonstrate to the Tribunal what (reasonable) steps they took to try to cut down on their losses (for example, g putting up ads as soon as possible in search of a new tenant)

A lease agreement with a fixed term can be terminated early at no additional cost to the tenant in certain situations.

A tenant is allowed to give a written notice of 14 days to end an agreement early without incurring any penalties if the following conditions are met:

  • They have decided to take up the government's offer of social housing (e g originating from DCJ Housing)
  • They need to relocate to a facility that provides elderly care, such as a nursing home or assisted living community rather than a retirement community.
  • The tenant was not informed that the property would be sold prior to signing the agreement with the landlord, even though the landlord has placed the property on the market for sale during the fixed-term lease.
  • if during the course of the tenancy the property is added to the Loose Fill Asbestos Insulation register or if it was already on the register prior to the tenant's occupancy and neither the landlord nor the agent disclosed this information to the tenant.

Until they hand back possession of the property, a tenant is still responsible for paying the rent. property

The termination of a tenancy when either the landlord or the tenant is experiencing financial hardship

If there are exceptional conditions, a landlord has the right to petition the Tribunal to terminate the agreement on the grounds of hardship.

If there are exceptional conditions and the tenant is still within the agreement's specified term, they have another option: they can petition the Tribunal to terminate the agreement on the grounds of hardship. There is no need to give prior notice.

At any point during the tenancy, a landlord may submit an application to the Tribunal citing hardship as grounds for terminating the tenancy.

If the tenant is subject to a fixed term agreement, the tenant has the option of filing an application with the Tribunal to terminate the tenancy due to hardship. A tenant has the right to request an emergency hearing, but they are required to keep paying rent during the process.

It is up to the party asserting hardship to explain the circumstances and provide evidence to the Tribunal in order to demonstrate that there are valid grounds for terminating the agreement.

If it is satisfied that the party claiming hardship would suffer undue hardship if the tenancy continues, the Tribunal has the authority to issue a termination order and put an end to the tenancy.

Vacating a rental unit due to a domestic violence incident

If a tenant or their dependent child is a victim of domestic violence, the tenant has the right to immediately and penalty-free terminate their tenancy, regardless of whether the tenancy is fixed-term or periodic.

A situation of domestic violence exists for a tenant and their dependent child if any of the following apply:

  • during the time you were a tenant, you were a victim of an act of domestic violence.
  • who are protected by a provisional, interim, or final Domestic Violence Order (DVO) that is currently in effect
  • an injunction issued under family law that is currently in effect provides protection against family violence
  • have had it documented by a "competent person" (a specialist who is qualified to make a declaration) that they were a victim of domestic violence during the time that they were renting from the relevant offender of domestic violence during the current tenancy.

Under the circumstances of domestic violence, a tenant is required to give the following notices in order to terminate their tenancy:

  • the landlord or the landlord's agent a domestic violence termination notice and attach one of the following permitted forms of evidence: the landlord's police report, the victim's police report, a court order, or a protective order.
    • a certificate of conviction for the crime of assault on a household member
    • injunction based on family law
    • order against domestic violence, either provisional, interim, or final
    • declaration that was made by an authorized person using the appropriate format
  • a termination notice citing domestic violence was given to each co-tenant.

There is no requirement for a minimum amount of notice. A termination date must be specified in the termination notice. This date can be the same day as the notice's delivery or it can be a date after the notice has been delivered.

There is no requirement for a domestic violence termination notice to be delivered in person.

Sample termination notices

Previously, a declaration of domestic violence could only be filled out by registered medical professionals.

Beginning on the 11th of December in the year 2020, a broader range of professionals, also known as competent persons, will be able to provide a declaration.

  • Registered health practitioners who hold either general or specialist registration in accordance with the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (NSW), in one of the following health professions: physiotherapists, dentists, pharmacists, optometrists, radiologists, occupational therapists,
    • Traditional Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medical care and treatment
    • Chinese medicine
    • chiropractic
    • dental refers to the field of medicine that includes dentists, dental therapists, dental hygienists, dental prosthetists, and oral health therapists as professions.
    • medical
    • The application of radiation in medicine
    • midwifery
    • nursing
    • physiotherapy for occupations
    • optometry
    • osteopathy
    • paramedicine
    • pharmacy
    • physiotherapy
    • podiatry
    • psychology
  • professionals in the field of social work who are members of the Australian Association of Social Workers,
  • staff members of a government agency in the state of New South Wales who work in child protection,
  • employees of non-governmental organizations that receive funding from the government to provide services relating to domestic violence or sexual assault or refuge or emergency accommodation, and
  • counselors who have met the requirements set forth by the Victims Rights and Support Act of 2013

This declaration is one of four acceptable forms of evidence that a tenant can attach to their notice of termination in order to end their tenancy without incurring any penalties.

In response to concerns that many victims of domestic violence do not feel comfortable going to the police or engaging with the justice system, the declaration has been made available to the public.

Information intended for knowledgeable individuals

At the conclusion of a tenancy, it is the responsibility of the tenant to ensure that the rental property is left in as close to the same condition as it was in when they initially moved in.

It is the responsibility of the tenant to pay for any damages caused to the property by actions that are either negligent, irresponsible, or intentional.

On the other hand, the tenant is not responsible for damage that is considered to be "fair wear and tear."

The condition report ought to include a description of the property in its initial state.

A walk-through of the rental unit must be performed by the tenant, as well as by the landlord or agent, immediately following the conclusion of the tenancy.

Both the landlord or the agent, as well as the tenant, are responsible for completing the original condition reports.

The landlord or agent is obligated to provide the tenant with a chance to attend the final inspection, provided that it is reasonable.

On the other hand, in the event that the opposing party is absent, the report might be completed without them.

The deterioration of the property that naturally occurs over the course of time is referred to as "fair wear and tear." This table compares typical instances of wear and tear with more serious types of damage.

Normal deterioration over time

Damage

Curtains with faded colors or frayed cords

Curtains that are either missing or torn.

There are dents from the furniture and footprints all over the carpet.

The carpet has some stains or burn marks on it.

Worn and scratched wooden floors

Floors made of wood that are severely gouged or scratched

Paint that is peeling, flaking, or cracked

Unauthorized and of substandard quality painting job

Worn kitchen benchtop

Bench top with burns or cuts in it

Doors or windows that have loose hinges or handles, as well as sliding tracks that are worn out

Broken glass

Stains on the carpet caused by water seeping through the carpet due to a leaking roof or poor plumbing

Stains on the carpet caused by an overflowing bathtub or by houseplants in containers

Frayed and peeling paint on the wall near the light switch

Painting that was damaged as a result of removing posters that had been affixed with blu-tack or sticky tape

A tenant is responsible for paying rent up until the day their termination notice period comes to an end and they vacate the property, including that day.

If the tenant leaves the property without owing the landlord any money and there is no damage to the property, then the bond that was paid at the beginning of the tenancy should be refunded in its entirety.

Claim against the tenant's security deposit can be made by the landlord or the agent if they believe the tenant owes money.

  • unpaid rent
  • the cost that should be expected to be incurred to repair damage to the property that goes beyond normal wear and tear
  • unpaid water usage charges, provided that the landlord made a request for payment within three months of receiving the bill.
  • any "break fee" or other charges that are due to be paid by the tenant as a result of an early termination of the tenancy agreement
  • the cost of cleaning any part of the property that was not left reasonably clean, taking into account how clean the property was when the tenancy began, and the reasonable cost of cleaning any other part of the property that was not left reasonably clean.
  • the cost that can be reasonably expected to be incurred in order to have the locks changed or other security devices replaced in the event that the tenant does not return all keys and security devices that were provided to them.

This is not an exhaustive list by any means. There are a variety of other valid reasons that a landlord or agent might have for making a claim against a tenant's security deposit.

The paper form is utilized for the submission of Rental Bonds when the online system was not utilized. Because refunds can only be made through direct deposit, the form needs to include the tenant's banking information.

In the event that a landlord or tenant is unable to persuade the opposing party to agree to sign the form, they should submit the form without the signature of the opposing party.

The party that refused to sign the form will receive a notice from Fair Trading, which will give them a period of fourteen days to either settle the matter or contest the claim by making an application to the Tribunal.

In the event that the party who refused to sign the form does not submit an application to the Tribunal, the bond will be disbursed according to the terms of the initial claim. However, if that party decides to apply to the Tribunal, Fair Trading will keep the bond until the dispute is resolved and return it to that party.

If the landlord and the tenant come to a different agreement after one of them has already filed a claim, then a new claim form that is signed by both parties will need to be filed with Fair Trading. In the event that this is not the case, the first claim submitted will be paid out after 14 days.

After the bond has been cashed, either party has the ability to make an application to the Tribunal within the following six months.

Just the claim form should be sent in to NSW Fair Trading.

In the event that a landlord or agent files a claim without the tenant's signature, that landlord or agent is obligated to provide the tenant with copies of the following within seven days of filing the claim:

  • a duplicate of the most recent condition report, as well as
  • copies of any estimates, quotes, invoices, or receipts related to the work that have been prepared.

If the Department of Community Justice Housing was responsible for paying all or part of the bond, copies of these documents must also be sent to them.

Should you fail to provide these documents within the allotted time frame, you may be subject to penalties.

At the conclusion of the tenancy, it is the responsibility of the tenant to ensure that all of his or her personal belongings have been removed from the rental property.

In the event that items are abandoned, landlords and agents are obligated to follow the proper procedure for dealing with them. For further details, please refer to the uncollected goods.

Taking care of belongings that were abandoned.

The items that are abandoned will determine how a landlord handles the situation.

In some instances, the landlord is required to give the former tenant notice that they are holding the tenant's belongings and that if the belongings are not collected within a certain amount of time, the landlord will dispose of the belongings.

For further details, please refer to the uncollected goods.

Before taking any further steps, a landlord is required to have absolute certainty that the tenancy has come to an end.

This is of utmost significance in the event that neither the landlord nor the tenant has provided notice of their intent to terminate the agreement.

Although it might appear that the tenant has abandoned the property, they might actually be away on vacation, away for work, or even in the hospital.

First, the landlord ought to make an effort to get in touch with the tenant, talk to the tenant's neighbors, or visit the tenant at their place of employment.

A landlord is able to submit an application to the Tribunal if they have any concerns about whether or not the property has been abandoned.

If there is no room for debate, the landlord does not require an order from the Tribunal. They need only replace the locks to make the property secure, and then they can take care of any belongings that were left behind.

The items that are abandoned will determine how a landlord handles the situation.

In some instances, the landlord is required to give the former tenant notice that they are holding the tenant's belongings and that if the belongings are not collected within a certain amount of time, the landlord will dispose of the belongings.

For further details, please refer to the uncollected goods.

While the items are in the possession of the landlord, a previous tenant or anyone else who has a legitimate interest in the goods has the right to reclaim them at any time.

A landlord has the right to request reimbursement for any actual costs they incurred in the process of removing, storing, maintaining, or insuring the tenant's belongings. On the other hand, the landlord cannot deny the return of the items on the grounds that the former occupant owes money for unpaid rent or for some other reason.

If a landlord does not follow the required process when dealing with goods left behind, a tenant who returns for their goods could also apply to the Tribunal for compensation for any damage to their belongings while they were in the landlord's possession. This would be the case even if the landlord returned the goods to the tenant.

If a landlord follows the required procedure, they have the ability to apply for an order from the Tribunal in the event that a tenant contests having to pay any relevant fees where applicable.

For further details, please refer to the uncollected goods.

When it comes to the end of a tenancy, landlords, agents, and tenants should all make an effort to settle disputes and come to an agreement with one another whenever it is possible to do so.

The terms of the agreement should be read over very thoroughly to get things started off on the right foot.

Please visit the page devoted to the resolution of rental problems if you require assistance in this matter.

If a tenant has been given the proper notice to vacate the rental property but has not left by the date that is specified in the termination notice, the landlord will need to apply to the Tribunal for termination and possession orders in order to regain ownership of the property.

If the tenant does not comply with the order of the Tribunal, the only person who has the authority to legally remove the tenant from the rental property is a sheriff's officer acting under a warrant for possession issued by the Tribunal or a court.

A warrant for possession can only be executed by an officer of the sheriff's department.

Unless a sheriff's officer is enforcing a warrant for possession that was issued by the Tribunal or a court, a tenant is not allowed to be locked out of their home.

It is against the law to lock a tenant out of their home without following the proper procedures, which can result in severe penalties.

Tenant information is stored in tenancy databases, which real estate agents consult when screening prospective tenants.

The databases are only accessible to members who have paid the associated membership fees.

The state of New South Wales is home to a number of tenancy databases, some of which include TICA, the National Tenancy Database, and Trading Reference Australia.

These databases are managed not by the government or the Tribunal but rather by private companies.

In order for a tenant to be included in a database, the tenancy agreement must specifically identify them in that capacity.

It is not possible to list occupants, visitors, or children, whether they have been approved or not.

After the end of a tenant's lease, and only then, can their information be added to a database. If a tenant is behind on their rent payments, has been served with a termination notice, or is not maintaining the property to an acceptable level, the tenant's information will not be included in a database.

One or both of the following conditions must be met before a tenant's information can be included in a database:

  • They have abandoned the premises, and their liability for violating the terms of the lease agreement is greater than the amount of the security deposit.
  • The agreement will be terminated as a result of an order issued by the Tribunal due to improper behavior on the part of the tenant.

Any information that is entered into a database must, in an accurate, comprehensive, and understandable manner, identify the reason for the listing. For instance, "eviction order handed down due to tenant having rental arrears, tenant owes $500 in additional rent on top of the bond."

As a result of domestic violence, tenancy agreements were severed.

Tenants whose leases were terminated due to incidents of domestic violence are exempt from being included in tenancy databases maintained by landlords and real estate agents.

This helps to mitigate the potentially detrimental effects that a domestic violence termination could have on survivors who are looking for alternative rental housing.

If landlords or agents want to include tenants on a tenancy database, they are required to provide tenants with written notice before doing so.

Before including the tenant in the database, they are required to give them at least 14 days to lodge an objection.

Tenants who are of the opinion that the proposed listing is unfair or inaccurate have the option of filing a complaint with the Tribunal.

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