COVID-19 and ending your tenancy

COVID-19 and ending your tenancy

There are changes to laws about renting in Victoria that will take effect from 29 March 2021.

These changes replace the temporary changes that were made in 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The changes apply to ending a residential rental agreement (lease) if you are renting your home. If you live in a rooming house or caravan park, these changes only apply if you have a tenancy agreement.

If you are a renter (tenant) and want to end your lease, there are four things you need to know:

  • rules about ending a tenancy during the COVID-19 pandemic have changed but you may still be able to apply to end your fixed-term tenancy early if you are suffering severe hardship or your residential rental provider (landlord) has applied for an order to end your lease
  • you can end a periodic (month-to-month) lease, by giving your rental provider 28 days’ notice that you will be leaving
  • there are changes to rules about condition reports, professional cleaning, goods left behind and getting your bond back. The Tenants Victoria website explains these changes.
  • if you are not sure about your rights, you can get legal advice. See Get help with housing and tenancy.

Under the new laws, if your rental provider wants to end your tenancy they will need to provide a valid reason. You may be able to challenge this decision. It is important to get help straight away if you want to challenge a decision to end your tenancy. See Get help with housing and tenancy.

 

Can I end my fixed-term lease early?

A fixed-term lease means that you and your rental provider have agreed you will rent your home for a certain amount of time. Often a fixed-term lease is for six months or a year.

You can ask your landlord if they agree to end the lease early. If they agree, you should ask for this in writing.

If your rental provider does not agree, you may be able to apply to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (the tribunal) to end your lease early if you are suffering from severe hardship. You should continue to pay rent until your application is heard. Severe hardship could include:

  • an unexpected change in your circumstances, such as losing your job, that will mean your hardship is more severe than the rental provider’s hardship if the tenancy is ended
  • if you need to leave for your safety because of family violence
  • if you have been ordered to stay away from the house in a family violence intervention order or personal safety intervention order.

For more information see the Tenants Victoria website’s information about Breaking your lease.

You may also be able to end your lease early if your landlord has applied for an order to end your lease. For more information about being evicted, see COVID-19 and being evicted.

If you are not sure about your rights, you can get legal advice. See Get help with housing and tenancy.

Can I end my periodic lease early?

If you have a periodic (month-to-month) lease, you can give your landlord 28 days’ notice that you will be leaving. That means you give them a notice 28 days in advance.

You need to give your landlord, or their agent, a document called a notice of intention to vacate and tell them your reason. The notice must be in writing and signed by you and any other renters. For more information and a form you can use, see Consumer Affairs Victoria renters giving notice of intention to vacate.

If you are not leaving because of severe hardship, you must give this notice at least 28 days before you leave and stop paying rent. If you do not give 28 days’ notice, you may have to pay extra fees or costs.

If your rental provider has applied for an order ending your tenancy or you are suffering severe hardship or, you may be able to apply to the tribunal to end your lease early. Severe hardship could include:

  • an unexpected change in your circumstances, such as losing your job, that will mean your hardship is more severe than the landlord’s hardship if the tenancy is ended
  • if you need to leave for your safety because of family violence
  • if you have been ordered to stay away from the house in a family violence intervention order or personal safety intervention order.

For more information see the Tenants Victoria website’s information about Breaking your lease.

If you are not sure about your rights, you can get legal advice. See Get help with housing and tenancy.

Can I get help at the Victorian Civil and Administrative tribunal?

You can get help if you need to go to the tribunal for a tenancy dispute. There have been changes to services at the tribunal in response to COVID-19 coronavirus, but you can still get help.

You can get free legal advice:

  • before your hearing date – you can get legal advice or a referral to another service by calling Legal Help on 1300 792 387
  • on your hearing date – you can speak with a duty lawyer by asking the tribunal for one before or during your hearing.

More information

The Tenants Victoria website has more information about changes to laws about renting in Victoria that will take effect from 29 March 2021.

Learn more about legal issues and COVID-19 coronavirus

See COVID-19 and being evicted

See COVID-19 and paying rent

Visit our ‘Find legal answers’ page on Renting

Where to get help

See Get help with housing and tenancy

 

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