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 Queensland 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 for landlords and tenants. 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.
In most circumstances, if a landlord or tenant wants to terminate the tenancy, they must notify the other party in writing. Even when notice is not required, it is good practice to use the forms below to notify the other party anyway. You should use the following forms:
To make sure that the notice is valid, you should carefully read the information below and complete all sections of the notice as required. Depending on the reason for termination, there are different minimum notice periods. To ensure your notice is valid, make sure you give the notice in time.
A tenancy agreement is automatically terminated if:
An occupant of the rented premises or someone who lives with the tenant can apply to the Tribunal for the tenancy to be terminated in two situations:
If the landlord terminates a co-tenancy, the termination applies to all of the co-tenants.
If one co-tenant leaves the tenancy but the agreement continues for the remaining co-tenants, the leaving co-tenant should use Form 4: Refund of Rental Bond to claim their share of the rental bond and to be taken off the tenancy agreement. It is important that leaving co-tenants do this to avoid liability for anything that happens after they move out.
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.
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.
Under a fixed term tenancy, the landlord can only terminate the agreement before the end of the fixed term in specific circumstances. If the landlord does not have a specific reason for termination, then they can only terminate a fixed term agreement after the end of the fixed term. If the agreement is for a periodic tenancy, then the landlord is free to terminate at any time so long as they do so according to the legal requirements.
Under a fixed term tenancy, the tenant can only terminate the agreement before the end of the fixed term in specific circumstances. If the tenant does not have a specific reason for termination, then they can only terminate a fixed term agreement after the end of the fixed term. If the agreement is for a periodic tenancy, then the tenant is free to terminate at any time so long as they do so according to the legal requirements.
If the tenant has given the landlord a Form 13: Notice of Intention to Leave, but no longer wish to leave the tenancy, they can withdraw the notice if they do so before the ‘handover day’ (when the tenancy is listed to end in the Form 13), and if the landlord agrees in writing.
As a tenant, if you give the landlord a Form 13 or apply directly to the Tribunal (depending on the reason why you are terminating), you should generally not move out immediately. If you move out and stop paying rent, but the landlord successfully challenges the validity of the termination at the Tribunal, then you will be considered to have abandoned the premises. This may mean you are liable to compensate the landlord because you have breach the tenancy agreement. Generally, the best option after giving a Form 13 or applying to the Tribunal is to wait until the landlord either accepts the termination or the Tribunal makes a termination order.
The premises is abandoned if the tenant moves out and stops paying rent and there is no ground for termination. If the tenant does abandon the premises, they may be liable to compensate the landlord for lost rent and other expenses because they have breached the tenancy agreement (see below for more information on compensation).
Landlords who believe that the premises has been abandoned have two options. In most cases, the first option is recommended as it generally involves less time and does not always require a Tribunal hearing.
If the landlord reasonably believes that the tenant has abandoned the premises, then they can give the tenant a Form 15: Abandonment Termination Notice. If the tenant does not dispute the notice by applying to the Tribunal within 7 days, then the landlord can consider the premises to be abandoned and retake possession.
Some of the factors that the landlord can rely on in reasonably believing that the premises has been abandoned are:
How can a Tenant dispute an Abandonment Termination Notice?
Tenants can dispute an Abandonment Termination Notice by applying to the Tribunal. The tenant must apply within 28 days of receiving the notice.
If the tenant wants to remain in possession of the premises and avoid termination, they should apply to the Tribunal within 7 days of receiving the notice from the landlord. If the tenant applies after 7 days then the landlord may have retaken possession, meaning that the tenant can only be awarded compensation by the Tribunal but not be allowed to move back into the premises.
Instead of giving the tenant an Abandonment Termination Notice, the landlord can apply directly to the Tribunal if they reasonably believe that the tenant has abandoned the premises. The Tribunal will take into account a number of factors in deciding whether to make a Termination Order, including:
The tenant can dispute a Termination Order by applying to the Tribunal with 28 days of the Tribunal making the order.
Landlord’s can seek compensation from the Tenant through the Tribunal if they suffer any kind of loss as result of the tenant’s breach of the tenancy agreement. There also are a number of specific circumstances where the landlord will be entitled to compensation. The landlord has a duty to mitigate their losses as much as is reasonably possible—this means that any loss suffered because the landlord did not take reasonable steps to mitigate loss will be deducted from the compensation amount. An example of mitigating losses is for the landlord to rent out the premises to a new tenant after the old tenant has abandoned it—i.e. the landlord cannot simply leave the premises empty and not take steps to rent it out again and expect to be compensate for lost rent for the balance of a fixed term.
If the tenant does not move out by the date required in a Termination Order made by the Tribunal, the landlord can seek compensation for any losses they incur as a result, such as not being able to allow a new tenant to move in. In addition, the landlord can also seek an Occupation Fee from the Tenant for the period after Termination that the tenant remains at the premises. The Occupation Fee is calculated according to the rental rate under the agreement—i.e. if the rent was $400/week, then the tenant would be liable for an Occupation fee of $800 if they remain at the premises for 2 weeks after the Termination date.
If the tenant has abandoned the premises, the landlord can seek compensation for any losses they have incurred as a result. If the tenant has abandoned the premises before the end of a fixed term, then the landlord will generally be entitled for lost rent for the remainder of the fixed term.
Depending on the circumstances, the tenant may also be liable to compensate the landlord for other costs like reletting the premises.
Yes. The tenant can apply to the Tribunal for a review of any compensation order made for abandonment. The application must be made within 28 days of the Tribunal making the original order.
When the Tribunal makes a Termination Order after the landlord applies for one, the Tribunal will also issue a ‘Warrant of Possession.’ The Warrant permits a police officer (or similar) to enter the premises to remove the tenant and their belongings if they otherwise refuse. The tenant will be notified of the warrant.
The Warrant only takes effect at least 3 days after it issued. This means that if the tenant is notified of the warrant immediately, they should move out within 3 days or they will be removed by the authorised police officer. Generally, the warrant will remain valid and can be enforced for 14 days after the day it takes effect.
The tenant must cooperate with the person entering the premises under a Warrant. If they obstruct the person entering, they may be subject to a fine.
The process for goods and items left behind by the tenant depends on their nature. A good way to avoid future disputes over goods left behind is for the landlord to take a picture of the goods where they were left at the premises. If the tenant is unhappy with the way that any goods left behind were treated by the landlord, they can apply to the Tribunal for compensation.
If the tenant leaves behind personal documents (e.g. passport, ID card, bank statements) or cash, the landlord must follow these procedures:
What the landlord must do with any goods left behind depends on the nature of the goods.
What happens to the money made by selling the goods?
Any made from selling the goods left behind must be paid to the Office of the Public Trustee within 10 days of the sale. The landlord can only keep amount from the sale to cover their reasonable costs of removing, storing, or selling the goods.
The tenant can reclaim any goods left behind by giving the landlord a written notice. The landlord can charge an amount to cover their removal and storage costs before giving the goods back to the tenant. The landlord cannot charge for any other costs, including overdue rent.
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.