When A Landlord Wants To End A Lease

Don’t fight like cats and… other cats (especially not flying cats). Landlord’s occasionally want to bring a lease to an end. This could be for a range of reasons. When this occurs, it’s important that both the landlord and tenants know their rights and obligations. This blog will provide a short summary of the things you should keep in mind to help.

To end the lease, the landlord can give the tenant notice to terminate the lease which then requires the tenant to move out. This is called a termination notice.

The notice periods required in a termination notice before the tenant has to vacate the property can vary depending on the reason for wanting to end the lease. They include the following:

(a)   end of a fixed term tenancy – 30 days notice;

(b)   general termination when the lease is on a week-to-week basis – 90 days notice;

(c)   when the vendor has sold the property – 30 days notice;

(d)   breach of lease – 14 days notice;

(e)   non-payment of rent – 14 days notice. Note, however, that the rent must have been unpaid for 14 days by the time the notice is given. If the tenant re-pays the rent before the termination notice time is up, the landlord cannot terminate the lease on this ground;

(f)   serious damage or injury – no notice required but the landlord must obtain an order from the Consumer, Trader & Tenancy Tribunal (CTTT);

(g)   use of property for unlawful purpose – no notice required but the landlord must obtain an order from the CTTT;

(h)   threat, intimidation, or harassment – no notice required but the landlord must obtain an order from the CTTT; and

(i)   hardship by landlord – no notice required but the landlord must obtain an order from the CTTT.

For (a) to (e) above, if the tenant can’t or doesn’t vacate by the time required, the landlord can then apply to the CTTT for a termination order. The termination order will typically give the tenant 4 to 8 further weeks to find other suitable accommodation and move out. If the tenant has not vacated by the time provided in the termination order, the landlord can then get a warrant for possession of the property from the CTTT and get the sheriff to physically evict the tenant.

As a general rule in all disputes, it is a good idea for the landlord and tenant to negotiate in good faith to try to reach a reasonable resolution. A tenant will want to keep their good rental history, a landlord will want the tenant to not create too many problems – a negotiated settlement, without the need for the intervention of the CTTT, will often achieve a mutually beneficial outcome for both parties.

We acted for a landlord who had terrible trouble evicting a nuisance, non-paying tenant. The case was the subject of a story on a well-known current affairs program. The tenant had to be forcibly removed from the property with the assistance of the police and the sheriff but not before lodging appeals to the CTTT, Local Court and District Court. The whole process took about 6 months because the termination orders were stayed while the matter was the subject of successive appeals. The costs implications for both parties was enormous. There was no winner.

The above is not intended as legal advice. You should obtain legal advice in relation to your own specific circumstances.

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