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Ending a Tenancy Agreement Early

A tenancy agreement may end for many reasons. Obligations for tenants and property owners are different depending on the reason why the agreement is ending early. Also if the agreement is for a fixed or non-fixed term.

In this section

When can a property owner issue a Notice to Vacate?

When a property owner wants a tenant to move out, they must serve a Notice to Vacate asking the tenant to deliver vacant possession of the property. NOTE: A Notice to Vacate is not required if the premises has been abandoned or where a magistrate has issued an Order of Termination.

A property owner can issue a Notice to Vacate if:

  • the tenant has breached the tenancy agreement;
  • the tenant has caused substantial nuisance;
  • the agreement is for a fixed term and is due to expire within 60 days;
  • the agreement is of no fixed-term and the premises are to be:
    • sold;
    • renovated;
    • used for another purpose (i.e. the property owner is going to live in the property); or
    • used as residence by a family member of the owner.
  • if a lending institution is selling the property to recover money owed by the property owner.

Information on Moving Out is available.

How much notice must be given?

14 clear days notice must be given if a Notice to Vacate is issued because the tenant has:

  • breached the agreement;
  • caused substantial nuisance;
  • not paid rent.

"clear days" means the day the notice is served is counted as day 1 and the date of effect is day 16.  If the date is miscalculated or entered incorrectly, the Act specifies when the notice is to take effect

42 clear days notice must be given if the Notice to Vacate is issued because:

  • the agreement is for a non-fixed term and the premises is to be sold, renovated or used for another purpose; or
  • the agreement is for a fixed term and is due to expire.

60 clear days notice must be given if the notice to vacate is issued because:

  • the premises is to be sold by a lending institution.

More information is available at Magistrates Court of Tasmania - Notice to Vacate.

If the agreement is fixed term, there is no provision for an owner to end the agreement due to the property being for sale/selling.

When can a tenant end an agreement?

A Notice to Terminate (pdf, 98.1 KB) an agreement may be given by a tenant to the owner for any of the following reasons:

  • The owner has failed to carry out repairs (that the tenant has not caused) within 28 days after being notified of the need for the repair;
  • The owner has failed to meet their obligations under the agreement;
  • If the agreement is not for a fixed period, and the tenant wishes to terminate it.

14 days notice is required to end a fixed term and non-fixed term agreement.

A tenant must terminate the agreement in the correct manner (see below).

Ending a fixed term agreement

If the tenant wishes to end a fixed term agreement for personal reasons they must talk with the owner. Reasons can be the tenant can no longer afford the rent; finds a better property; moves for work.  The owner may agree for them to leave on a specified date.

The tenant:

  • should give as much notice as possible to the property owner that they wish to move out.
  • may help the property owner find a replacement tenant, (i.e. advertising the property).
  • will be responsible for paying rent until a new tenant is found OR until the expiry date of their agreement.

The property owner:

  • must make reasonable attempts to find a new tenant and mitigate against any potential loss.

See Re-letting a Property for information on what a property owner can claim from the bond when tenants move out early and a valid Notice to Terminate has not been issued.

Owner failed to meet their obligations under the agreement

A tenant may wish to end the agreement if a property owner fails to meet their obligations. For example the property owner fails to maintain the property.  The tenant must first issue the owner with a Notice for Repair. This allows an owner 28 days to undertake the repair. If the owner fails to undertake the repair within the required timeframe the tenant can end the agreement with a Notice to Terminate (pdf, 98.1 KB).

The Notice to Terminate must include the:

  • date of service of the notice;
  • name of the tenant;
  • name of the owner;
  • address of the premises;
  • details of why the notice is served;
  • date on which the notice takes effect.

A tenant is liable for rent until the date of effect of the notice and must still leave the property as it was at the beginning of the lease.

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Boarding premises

How much notice must be given?

At least 2 days notice must be given if the Notice to Terminate is for boarding premises.

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Re-letting a property

Re-letting costs

When a tenant breaks a lease early, an owner can claim for the professional third party costs incurred in reletting the property. An example of this is advertising. Appropriate evidence will need to be provided. Also the length of time remaining on the lease will be considered.

An owner cannot claim for their own time spent reletting the property as it is not an actual financial loss.  Also an owner cannot claim for the cost of their agent to relet the property as this is not considered to be a cost directly related to a tenant's obligations under the Act. Rather, it is an owner's choice to have the property professionally managed. Break lease fees are also in contravention of Section 17 of the Act.

Abandoned premises

An abandoned property is where:

  • the tenant has left the property without notice; and
  • a Notice to Terminate has not been given; and
  • a Notice to Vacate has not been served by the property owner.

A property is not abandoned if rent is still being paid for the property.

A property owner may take possession of a property if they reasonably believe it to be abandoned. However a property owner could be in breach of the Residential Tenancy Act 1997 if they take possession and the property is not abandoned.  For example the tenant is in rent arrears and on holiday but intending to return.

A property owner may apply to the Magistrates Court of Tasmania for an order declaring the property abandoned.

Abandoned goods

When a tenant leaves a property at the end of a lease agreement and leaves goods behind, the property owner may do the following:

  • Goods are of no value. Donate or discard the items.  Sign a Statutory Declaration describing the method of disposal;
  • Goods appear to be worth less than $300. Sell the items.  Sign a Statutory Declaration stating the method of disposal (eg, selling);
  • Goods appear to belong to someone else (eg bought on hire purchase/borrowed/stolen). The property owner should attempt to the contact the owner or seek advice from Tasmania Police;
  • Goods appear to be worth more than $300. Apply to the Magistrates Court of Tasmania for an order to sell the goods.

What to do with the money from the sale of abandoned goods

  • Use any money relating to the sale of abandoned goods to cover any debts owed by the tenant and the costs of selling or disposing of the goods.
  • Deposit any remaining money into an interest-bearing account and hold for 6 months after the sale of the goods.
  • If the tenant does not claim the money within 6 months, the owner must pay the remaining money to the Residential Tenancy Commissioner.

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