Break a Lease Qld – Options and Consequences
Break a Lease – Negotiate
There are many good reasons why you might want to break a lease for the home or unit you are renting.
Here are some of the more common ones:
-You accepted a new job and need to move out of state
-You lost your job and cannot afford the rent and need to move out
-You have a bad landlord who does not fix problems (i.e., no heat, no air conditioning)
-You had a change of heart and don’t like the property
Whatever the reason, you as the tenant, want out. But, what can you do? Look at the steps below, which can help you sort through your options.
1. Review The Lease
The first step should be reviewing the terms of your lease agreement and seeing if there is an opt-out clause that allows for an early release. Most likely a fee will be required and you might be willing to pay it, but most importantly, it will open the door for the next step: negotiating with the landlord or property manager.
2. Negotiate With Landlord
Be candid with the landlord about your reason for wanting to leave or the problems you’ve been experiencing and perhaps he or she will make it right. Or, if you are too far to the other side and you just want out of the place, then you could offer to find a replacement tenant or even sublet the property.
Remember you are still legally responsible for the rental proceeds for the remainder of the lease, so it’s in your best interest to find someone to take your place. Just make sure it’s OK with the landlord and you get it in writing.
If the reason you want to leave is due to negligence on the part of the landlord, you have other avenues of recourse, starting with documentation.
Write down every phone call and keep every email correspondence with your landlord about the problems you are experiencing. Jot down the basics of what the landlord said, along with the date and time of the call. For example: “8 a.m., April 3, the landlord said he will come Monday morning to examine the damage and will fix it on Wednesday.”
Then document the results of the visit. Did he fix the problem? Did he even show up?
Also, photograph and record video of the issue. Try to include in the photo either a daily paper showing the date or use your camera’s date stamp to prove when you took the photo. In a worst-case scenario, these could help you prove your case in court.
4. Consider Mediation
Some areas of the country offer free or low-cost mediators that are less expensive than an attorney. A mediator might be able to help you and the landlord come to an agreement you can both live with.
5. Contact a Local Housing Advocate
If things don’t improve, let the landlord know you’ve been documenting the problem. Reach out to an attorney a legal aid office or a housing rights organization in your area. They will know your local laws and may have form letters you can send to your landlord.
6. Do a Constructive Eviction
If you still need to break the lease for your own safety and sanity, you’ll want to get a constructive eviction. Nolo Law for All defines a constructive eviction as:
“Housing that is so substandard that a landlord has legally evicted the tenant without following state eviction rules and procedures. For example, if the landlord refuses to provide heat or water or refuses to clean up an environmental health hazard, the tenant has the right to move out and stop paying rent, without incurring legal liability for breaking the lease.”
Be aware that the landlord’s actions must be severe enough to constitute a constructive eviction severe enough to hold up in a court of law. Therefore, document your situation to help build a case; otherwise, you might be on the hook for any lease obligations, whether you leave or not.
7. Report The Landlord
If things don’t go well, you can report your landlord to consumer organizations or tenants’ rights centers in your area (RTA in QLD) to help others avoid your fate. It might not help your present situation, but it will help others and put this person on notice.
Be aware that a lease is a legally binding contract and is difficult to break without incurring serious consequences. You could end up in court, your credit history could be seriously affected and you might have a hard time renting again.
Unless you are facing an egregious situation in which your rental is uninhabitable, think twice about abandoning it. But, if you do make plans to leave, make sure you seek strong counsel from housing advocacy groups or a lawyer so you know your rights and the potential consequences.
Break a Lease Options – Queensland
Often under duress, tenants may need to break a tenancy agreement, or lease, under the excessive hardship rules, but they should be aware of their legal responsibilities and the prospect of costs being awarded to re-let the property.
A lease is a legally binding written contract between the tenant and property manager and the easiest way to break a lease is by a written termination agreement signed by both the tenant and the property manager.
If the property manager/owner refuses to break the lease the tenant has these options.
In the case of excessive hardship, a tenant can make an urgent application directly to the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT), without participating in RTA dispute resolution, to end the tenancy agreement.
The legislation does not define “excessive hardship” as this is dependent on individual circumstances and must be ruled on by an adjudicator at QCAT.
Some examples of excessive hardship may include the loss of a job and no means to pay rent, a tenant who is forced to relocate for work, or suffering severe physical or mental illness.
The tenant should attend the QCAT hearing with the necessary documents to support their claim of excessive hardship.
If excessive hardship is proven QCAT can grant a termination order of the tenancy agreement immediately.
However, the tribunal cannot backdate the termination order and the tenant would be responsible for the rent and associated costs up to the termination date.
If excessive hardship cannot be proven the tenant may be responsible for compensating the lessor for any loss or expense for re-letting the property which may include:
-Payment of rent until another tenant is found
-Break lease fees, such as real estate agents’ administration fees
-Advertising expenses to relet the property.
However, the property lessor has a legal obligation to reduce or minimise costs that result from the lease break. That is, the lessor must make a reasonable effort to re-let the premises quickly.
If there is a dispute between the tenant and the lessor about the amount of compensation, an attempt to conciliate the issue must first be made with the RTA.
If the issue is not resolved, the RTA will issue a Notice of unresolved dispute. The matter can then be taken to QCAT for a decision.
If an owner wants to end a fixed term agreement on the grounds of excessive hardship for example ‘lost the job and unable to pay the mortgage’, may also apply to QCAT for a decision.
In this case, the tenant may seek compensation for example an amount towards moving costs.
Breaking a Lease Qld
If a tenant or lessor ends a fixed term agreement before the end date without grounds (i.e. without sufficient reason) they are breaking the agreement. This is also known as breaking the lease.
A tenancy agreement is a legally binding agreement. If it is broken, compensation will probably need to be paid.
Money may be owed to the property manager/owner as a result of breaking the lease. This is considered compensation.
-If the tenant breaks the lease, they may need to pay for the loss of rent until the property is re-let or until the end of the tenancy agreement. They may also have to pay reasonable re-letting and advertising costs
-If the lessor breaks the lease, they may have to pay for the tenant’s moving costs
Any compensation, or payment options for the amount, should be discussed between the tenant and the lessor (this could include how the bond is to be paid out).
The lessor must mitigate any loss associated with breaking the lease.
If the tenant or lessor is experiencing excessive hardship (e.g. serious financial or health issues) they may make an urgent application to QCAT for an order terminating the agreement. However, QCAT may also order compensation to be paid even if the agreement is terminated.
Tenant Breaks the Lease
Always inform the lessor in writing of your intention to leave.
You may be asked to pay:
-Reasonable re-letting costs (usually 1 week’s rent plus GST)
-Reasonable advertising costs (if incurred)
-Compensation for loss of rent (until a new tenant is found or until the end date of the agreement whichever happens first).
The lessor is legally required to minimise any costs associated with breaking the lease. If you feel they are not mitigating this loss, contact the RTA for assistance.
-You and the lessor mutually agree in writing to end the agreement early on a specific date
-Give the lessor a Notice of intention to leave (Form 13) and leave the property (you will probably need to pay compensation)
-Get your lessor’s approval to transfer your interest in the property. If you have paid a bond you will need to fill out a Change of Bond Contributors (Form 6)
-Apply to QCAT to end the agreement due to excessive hardship (if you have evidence to support the application).
-The tenant may end the tenancy agreement early, however, they may have to pay compensation if they do not have grounds (sufficient reason)
-The tenant can be charged reasonable re-letting and advertising costs
-The tenant may be responsible for paying compensation for loss of rent (until a new tenant is found or the end date of the agreement)
-You are legally required to minimise costs associated with the tenant breaking the lease. You should start arrangements for re-letting the property as soon as practical
*You and the tenant mutually agree in writing to end the agreement early on a specific date
*Tenant provides you with a Notice of intention to leave (Form 13) and you may agree on compensation (e.g. for loss of rent and reasonable re-letting costs)
*Approve the transfer of the tenant’s interest in the property. If they have paid a bond they will need to fill out a Change of Bond Contributors (Form 6)
*The tenant may decide to apply to QCAT to end the agreement due to excessive hardship (if they have evidence to support the application)
Lessor Breaks the Lease
-Without an order from QCAT ending the tenancy the tenant does not have to move out
-If you do not have a QCAT order but the tenant agrees to move out early you may negotiate with the tenant over a compensation payment (e.g. moving costs)
*You and the tenant mutually agree in writing to end the agreement early on a specific date
*Apply to QCAT to end the agreement due to excessive hardship (if you have evidence to support the application)
-Without an order from QCAT ending the tenancy, you do not have to move out
-If the lessor does not have a QCAT order, but you agree to move out early, you may negotiate a compensation payment (e.g. moving costs)
*You and the lessor agree in writing to end the agreement early on a specific date
*The lessor applies to QCAT to end the agreement due to excessive hardship (if they have evidence to support the application).