Northern Territory Termination by Tenant
The tenant can only terminate the tenancy agreement under certain circumstances, which are listed below. Tenants should ensure they use the correct notice and abide by the minimum notice periods.
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?
When can the tenant terminate the agreement?
The tenant can terminate the tenancy agreement under certain circumstances, which are listed below. The exact process that the tenant and landlord should follow will depend on the reason for termination. Read the information below carefully to see which process you should follow.
Important: once the tenant has given the landlord a Notice to Terminate, they should not move out immediately. The tenant should continue to pay rent and occupy the premises until either the landlord accepts the termination or the Tribunal grants a termination order. If the landlord does not accept the termination and/or the Tribunal rules that the termination was invalid, but the tenant has already moved out and has stopped paying rent, then they will be considered to have abandoned the premises. Abandonment is a breach of the tenancy agreement, meaning that the tenant may be liable to compensate the landlord. In most circumstances, the best option for the tenant is to continue to pay rent and occupy the premises until the termination is confirmed and the termination date arrives.
Terminating at end of fixed term
The tenant can terminate a fixed term tenancy at the end of the fixed term by giving the landlord a Notice to Terminate Tenancy Agreement.
The tenant must give the landlord at least 14 days notice of termination. The termination notice can be given before the end of the fixed term, however the termination date must be at the expiry of the fixed term.
Terminating agreement before end of a fixed term (breaking the lease)
If the tenant terminates a fixed term tenancy before the end of the fixed term, and there are no legal grounds to do so, this is called ‘breaking the lease.’ In most cases where the tenant breaks the lease, the tenant will be liable to compensate the landlord for lost rent.
If the tenant wants or needs to break the lease, good practice is to give the landlord as much notice as possible and assist in finding a replacement tenant. Doing so will reduce the amount of compensation that the tenant will be liable for. Landlords are also under a duty to mitigate their losses by taking reasonable action.
Terminating a periodic tenancy agreement (or after end of fixed term)
The tenant can terminate a periodic tenancy (or a fixed term agreement after the end of the fixed term) by giving the landlord a Notice to Terminate Tenancy Agreement.
The landlord must give the tenant at least 14 days notice of termination.
Landlord breaches term of tenancy agreement
If the landlord has breached a term of the tenancy agreement, the tenant has 2 options, depending on their preferences and the nature of the breach:
- Give Notice to Remedy Breach — in most cases, the tenant should use this option. It provides an opportunity for the landlord to fix the breach and for the tenancy to continue. If the breach is not fixed, the tenant can still seek termination. This option should be used unless the breach is very serious or cannot be fixed. See below for more information on the process.
- Apply Directly to NTCAT for termination order — in cases where the breach is very serious or cannot be fixed, the tenant can apply directly to the Tribunal for a termination order. The Tribunal will only make an order if the breach is sufficiently serious to justify termination. See below for more information.
Option 1: Give Notice to Remedy Breach
If the tenant has breached a term of the tenancy agreement, the tenant can give the landlord a Notice to Remedy Breach. In the notice, the tenant must give the landlord at least 7 days to fix the breach (or at least take steps to do do to the tenant’s satisfaction).
If the landlord does not fix the breach (or take satisfactory steps) within the required period, the tenant can apply to the Tribunal for a termination and possession order. Any application made by the tenant must be within 14 days of the end of the remedy period given to the landlord. The Tribunal will make a termination and possession order if the tenant’s notice was valid and the breach has not been fixed.
Option 2: Apply Directly to NTCAT for termination order
In particularly serious circumstances where the landlord has breached the agreement, the landlord can apply directly to NTCAT for a termination and possession order. NTCAT will only make a termination order if the breach is serious enough to justify termination. Generally, this means that the breach cannot be fixed or has caused significant loss to the tenant.
Premises becomes flooded, unsafe, or uninhabitable
The tenant can terminate the agreement using a Notice to Terminate Tenancy Agreement for any of the following 3 reasons:
- Flooding — the premises cannot be accessed because of flooding for a period of more than 3 days.
- Health or Safety Threat — if the tenant was to continue to occupy the premises, there would be a threat to:
- the health or safety of the tenant or members of the public, or
- the safety of the landlord’s property.
- Uninhabitable — the premises has become uninhabitable. This means that the tenant can no longer live at the premises because it has deteriorated or been damaged so much that no person could reasonably be expected to live there.
The tenant must give at least 2 days notice of termination to the landlord.
Undue hardship to tenant
The tenant can apply to NTCAT for a termination and possession order if they would suffer ‘undue hardship’ if the tenancy continued. The reason for any hardship must not have existed before the tenant entered the agreement.
Proving ‘undue hardship’ is difficult. The tenant must be experiencing significant disadvantage due to circumstances beyond their control. Moreover, the hardship must usually be significant. For example, the tenant has become bankrupt or must urgently move to a different location.
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.