Notice to Vacate

If you wish to give notice to vacate the property you are renting the way you do it depends on the type of lease you have.

Basically it depends on whether you have a Fixed Term Lease or a Periodic Lease (no fixed term).

Fixed Term Lease

If you have a lease that has a specific End Date or Expiry Date then you will need to provide at least 28 clear days written notice to your Landlord/Agent of your intention not to renew the lease and to vacate.  This is best done using the Consumer and Business Services Form 4B which can be downloaded here.

Periodic Lease

If you have a lease that has no specific End Date or Expiry Date then you need to give at least 21 days written notice to your Landlord/Agent or notice equivalent to at least a single rent period of your tenancy, whichever is the greater.   This means that if you normally pay rent every calendar month then you will need to give at least 1 calendar month’s written notice.   This is best done using the Consumer and Business Services Form 5 which can be downloaded here.

Breaking your lease 

If, for any reason, you need to leave for the property before your Fixed Term Lease ends then you need to give formal written notice to your Landlord/Agent as soon as possible of your intentions.

A Residential Tenancy Agreement is a binding legal contract so a tenant is committed to completing the full term of the lease unless they contact the Landlord/Agent to come to an arrangement that will suit all parties.

In general a Landlord/Agent can’t refuse to allow the Tenant to break their lease provided measures are taken to find a new tenant to take over the lease.   The tenant will not be in breach of their lease providing they have formally notified the Landlord/Agent of their intentions and they continue to pay all costs including rent and continue to look after the property up until a new tenant has been accepted by the Landlord/Agent and moves in.

If a Tenant breaks their lease they will be liable for 3 types of costs;

1. Rent up until a new tenant moves in (see above paragraph).
2. A proportion of Letting fees.   Most Agents will charge a Landlord up to 2 weeks rent + GST to find a new tenant.   The proportion the Tenant is liable to pay is determined by the formula as described in the Consumer and Business Services Bulletin which can be downloaded here, ‘Claiming for costs from a broken lease’

3. A proportion of Advertising costs.   Agents will charge a fee to advertise on various Internet sites, in newspapers and other media.   The proportion the Tenant is liable to pay is determined by the formula as described in the Consumer and Business Services Bulletin which can be downloaded here, ‘Claiming for costs from a broken lease’

It is essential that the Tenant formally notify the Landlord/Agent of their intention to break their lease as soon as possible.   Although there is no fixed form to use in these situations Adelaide South Property uses this form which can be downloaded here;

‘Lease break form letter for a Tenant to complete’

This letter authorises the Landlord/Agent to start advertising to find a new tenant immediately but it is important to note they are not obliged to do so until the Tenant has vacated.

Some agents like to stick to the letter of the law and do nothing until the tenant is completely out, the Final Inspection is done and all keys are returned.   We at Adelaide South Property find this to be very counter-productive.   We will always endeavour to work with the tenant to do whatever is required to find a suitable new tenant as soon as possible.

Co-operate with the Agent to find a new Tenant

We recommend Tenants do whatever is necessary to find a new tenant before they have to move out.   This could include;

As much as possible give the Agent full access to the property to show have Open Inspections and to otherwise show prospective tenants through the property.   So be as contactable as possible to be able to authorize these access periods.
• Keep the house and yards as tidy as possible.
• It can be an advantage for the Tenant to be at the property during these inspections because prospective tenants find it very helpful to ask questions of the current Tenant about the house and neighbourhood.• You can’t buy an established dwelling. 
Sometimes Tenants will delay fully vacating even after they no longer live at the property.   They will leave a variety of things at the house and generally leave it in a messy state pending the final clean up.   This will be very off-putting to prospective Tenants and they can feel that a house is not available.   If all keys are handed back and the Final Inspection is done with the house and yards now sparking tidy this will be the best advertisement of all.

If it comes to vacating the house and a new Tenant has still not been found then what you do from this point becomes more critical.   We recommend;

• Keep the power on so that lights can be turned on at all Open Inspections.   This is so much more important in the winter months when it starts getting very dark after 5pm just at the time people are finishing work and want to come to these Inspections.
• You are still responsible for maintaining the yards until a new Tenant moves in so keep cutting lawns and do the weeding, provided this arrangement is ok with the Landlord/Agent.
• Keep paying rent as normal if you wish to maintain a good reference from this Landlord/Agent in future.   You are entitled to break a lease but not to put others into hardship because of your actions. 
Be contactable and co-operative, as much as possible, with the Landlord/Agent during this entire process.

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