breaking your rental leaseWhatever your reason, it might be time to move on from your current rental property lease. But what if you need to bail out before the lease is up?

If you’re on a periodic lease, you can terminate your lease with far less notice, but it’s another story if you’re part way through a fixed-term lease.

Hold the fort – what’s a ‘fixed-term lease?’ When you sign a fixed-term lease, you’re signing a binding contract which says you will pay the specified rent for a minimum period – that might be 6 or 12 months.

So if you want out of your fixed term lease, here are a few tips to help you:

Know your state and territory laws

The more you know about terminating a fixed-term lease early, the more likely you’ll be able to break your lease with minimal issue. Be aware of state-specific details on re-letting fees, advertising fees and whatever rent is owing before new tenants can be found.

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Communication is key

If you want to break your lease, it’s important to let your landlord or property manager know of your intentions as soon as possible. This notice should be done as a written notification and should mention the following:

  • The fact that you wish to break the lease
  • Acknowledgment that you have a debt to make good for financial loss
  • A request for the landlord or property manager to start advertising and start showing the property to prospective tenants ASAP (or from a certain date)
  • The date you plan to move out
  • The date your landlord or property manager can begin showing the property
  • Your new address

If you need to end your agreement early, you should always try to give as much notice as possible so the owner can take all reasonable steps to find a replacement tenant as soon as possible. You must also give your landlord or property manager a forwarding address at the end of any tenancy.

Breaking your rental lease – What happens next?

Once your landlord or property manager received your letter of intent to break the lease, they will likely reply advising you to pay ‘lease break cost,’ which include a portion of the re-letting fee and advertising cost.

Now you have the green light (in writing, naturally!) you will want to hand your tenancy over to someone else. The easier you make it to find a new tenant for the property, the less money you’ll have to compensate the owner in lost rent. This means preparing the property in the best way possible. Present clean and tidy backyards and lawns, clear the house of any rubbish and keep the house as immaculate as possible with the power still connected.

Make sure you’re aware of any state-specific laws around reassignment, particularly with regard to updating tenancy agreements and the period for which you’re still liable to pay rent.

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  1. I am on a month by month periodic lease in Melbouren Victoria
    Do I have to give a months notice from the date that I pay my monthly rent or can I give notice after I’ve paid my monthly rent and if so is it up to me to re–tenant the property or will I have to pay extra up until the new payment is due

  2. Hi,
    We have just signed a lease agreement and paid the bond. We are due to pick up keys and have lease start on the 2nd of November. If we were to break the lease agreement before it has even begun, are we able to recoup the bond money?
    Thanks in advance

    • Hi Sandy,
      While I definitely understand your frustration with this situation, in most cases once a bond is lodged the agent/owner may be entitled to ask for break lease fees to cover the re-advertising for the property, as well as any potential lost rent for the period. You could contact your state tenancy authority for clarification if your agent isn’t able to help you directly. Here’s a link that may help:

  3. Hello
    Thanks for your information but I signed 12 months rental lease but when I moved into house , during the night I found out insects like slugs, leeches are coming out of wooden floor in areas of house and there are cracks and holes in the wooden floor and the house is nearly 75 years old. I signed the leases on 12/12/2108 it’s just 7 days.

    So I am worried regarding about health and safety of me and my kids and family.

    So I request you to please advise me what are my options and can I broke the lease at this stage.