This guide covers landlords (or head-tenants) and tenants (or sub-tenants) in a Residential Tenancy. This applies to the majority of share accommodation and residential property rental situations. To confirm it covers your situation visit What is my share accommodation situation?
Under ACT law, there are a certain number of circumstances where the tenancy can be terminated. The landlord or tenant can choose to terminate the tenancy in some situations, and there are other instances where the tenancy will be automatically terminated.
As a general rule, a tenancy agreement cannot be lawfully terminated before the end of a fixed term, unless it is for a specific reason as listed below. Termination before the end of the fixed term for no lawful reason may mean the party terminating the agreement has to compensate the other party.
The tenancy agreement can be terminated at any time if the landlord and tenant agree to this. For the sake of greater certainty, it is good practice for the landlord and tenant to note an agreement to end a tenancy in writing.
In most circumstances, if a landlord or tenant wants to terminate the tenancy, they must notify the other party in writing. There are different forms for the landlord and tenant to use:
Note: the documents provided are NOT official ACT government forms. They contain all required information for a Notice to Vacate or a Notice of Intention to Vacate. You may create your own form which complies with the requirements of the Residential Tenancies Act 1997.
Before using either form, you should read the information below to ensure the termination complies with all legal requirements.
If the landlord terminates a co-tenancy, the termination applies to all the co-tenants.
If one co-tenant wishes to move out, but the rest of the co-tenants remain, the outgoing co-tenant should attempt to find a replacement co-tenant. The landlord, outgoing, existing, and incoming co-tenants should then sign the ‘Transfer of Tenants’ form. This form transfers the interest in the Bond from the outgoing to the incoming tenant.
If the agreement between a landlord and head-tenant is terminated, then the agreement between the head-tenant and sub-tenant will also be terminated. If this occurs, the head-tenant should notify the landlord and sub-tenant as soon as possible to ensure that the sub-tenant moves out in time.
If the sub-tenant wants to stay at the premises, they can attempt to negotiate a new tenancy agreement directly with the landlord.
Depending on the circumstances, the head-tenant may be liable to compensate the sub-tenant for terminating the sub-tenancy agreement, especially if termination was before the end of a fixed term.
The landlord can terminate the tenancy agreement under certain circumstances. The exact process that the landlord and tenant should follow will depend on the reason for termination.
Read more detailed information about when the Landlord can terminate the tenancy.
The tenant can terminate the tenancy agreement under certain circumstances. The exact process that the tenant and landlord should follow will depend on the reason for termination.
Read more detailed information about when the Tenant can terminate the tenancy.
Abandonment occurs when the tenant moves out the premises and stops paying rent without giving any notice to the landlord. If the tenant abandons the premises, the tenancy agreement is terminated on the date of abandonment.
The tenant will generally be liable to compensate the landlord for abandoning the premises. See the following section for detailed information about compensation.
The landlord or tenant can receive compensation if they have suffered any losses caused by a breach of the tenancy agreement by the other party.
Compensation for Breaking the Lease
If the tenant has broken the lease, the landlord can apply to ACAT for a compensation order. The landlord can be compensated for two types of losses:
Compensation for Abandonment—fixed term agreements
If the tenant has abandoned the premises before the end of the fixed term, the landlord can apply to ACAT for a compensation order. The landlord can be compensated for two types of losses:
Compensation for Abandonment—periodic agreements
If the tenant abandons the premises under a periodic tenancy agreement, the landlord can claim compensation for up to 3 weeks rent.
Compensation if Tenant fails to vacate by termination date
If the tenant does not move out by the termination date and continues to occupy the premises, the landlord can seek compensation through ACAT for two types of costs incurred:
Duty to Mitigate Losses
Any party receiving compensation is under a duty to mitigate their losses. If they do not take reasonable steps to mitigate their losses, where possible, they may not be awarded the full amount of compensation.
Example: if the tenant has broken the lease, the landlord must make reasonable efforts to mitigate their losses by seeking a replacement tenant. The landlord cannot expect to be fully compensated if they simply leave the premises vacant and make no efforts to find a new tenant.
If the tenant has not moved out by the termination date and continues to refuse to do so, the landlord can seek a Warrant of Eviction from ACAT. Under no circumstances should the landlord attempt to physically remove the tenant from the premises themselves.
A warrant of eviction authorises a police officer to remove the tenant from the premises. The police officer will give the tenant at least 2 days notice of when the eviction will occur.
These legal guides provide a brief summary and introduction of the laws and regulations affecting share accommodation. They do not cover all cases in all legal jurisdictions and might not apply in your specific share accommodation situation. It is important that you use this information as a guide only and seek independent Legal Advice or consult the Relevant Acts. We do not accept any liability that may arise from the use of this information.