For owners of investment properties, it can be a long search to find the right tenant for your property. So, what do you do when you need to end the tenancy? When it comes to legally ending a tenancy there is a specific set of processes and requirements that need to be followed to ensure that both parties’ rights and obligations are met. While it can be a turbulent time, the right advice and guidance can help to ensure a smooth transition for everyone involved.
As a landlord wishing to legally end a tenancy agreement, there are minimum notice periods to adhere to, written termination notices to issue as well as other requirements and obligations that can vary depending on the individual circumstances. With all of this information to consider, let’s discuss what you, as a landlord, need to know when it comes to legally ending a tenancy.
The Legal Requirements for Landlords when Ending Tenancies
When seeking to end a tenancy agreement, there are a number of legal requirements you as the landlord must follow. Perhaps one of the most important, is that you will need to give your tenant a written termination notice with the applicable notice period to be observed. You also need to specify a date of vacation of the property in the termination notice.
In some cases, such as breach of agreement or other legal reasons other than domestic violence or death of the tenant, you can apply directly to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal for a termination order without needing to issue a termination notice. It is imperative that the requirements for legally ending a tenancy agreement are closely adhered to. As is the case with many legal processes, failing to correctly administer the termination of a tenancy can result in you, the landlord, incurring penalties as well as potentially creating further issues and problems that will need to be dealt with.
Minimum notice period for ending a Tenancy Agreement
The notice period for terminating the tenancy depends on your type of tenancy agreement (fixed-term agreement or periodic agreement) and your reasons for termination. Notice periods can range from 14 days to 90 days depending on the circumstances.
These notice periods are designed to give tenants enough time to find another rental property, and to give you as landlords enough time to find a new tenant.
Importantly, you and your tenant can agree to end the tenancy agreement at any time.
So what do these termination notices legally need to contain? The legal requirements for termination notices are that they must:
- be in writing
- be signed and dated by the party giving the notice
- include the address of the rented property
- state the day the tenancy agreement is terminated (and by which the tenant will need to move out), and
- include the reasons for termination (if applicable).
Termination notices can be given at any time and do not have to line up with your tenant’s rent payment cycle.
After you provide your tenant with a termination notice, you can give another notice on different grounds if necessary.
For example, if you give 90 days notice to terminate a periodic tenancy without a reason, and the tenant then doesn’t pay rent for 14 days, you can give another termination notice for the non-payment of rent.
Breaking a fixed-term agreement early
If your tenant wants to move out before the end of a fixed term of lease, there could be costs involved for you as a landlord and for your tenant; you may have to cover their rent until you find another tenant or alternately the tenant may have to pay you the rest of rent for the remainder of their lease agreement.
Essentially, your tenant should always give you as much notice as they can if they need to end the agreement early and make it as easy as possible for you or your agent to show the property to potential new tenants.
Ending a tenancy agreement due to hardship to the landlord or tenant
If you or your tenant are experiencing hardship, there is an option to end the tenancy legally and appropriately. You can apply to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal to end your tenancy agreement on hardship grounds. This application can be made if there are special circumstances and they are within the fixed term of the agreement. No prior notice is required for this application to the Tribunal.
Vitally, it is up to whoever is claiming hardship to explain the situation and provide evidence to the Tribunal to prove that there are grounds for ending the agreement. This can be a challenging situation – both from an administrative perspective and emotionally, so it’s important to seek the correct advice and support to guide you through it.
Condition of the property when ending a tenancy agreement
At the end of a tenancy, your tenant has specific legal responsibilities to fulfil under the terms of your tenancy agreement. They are responsible for leaving the property as near as possible to the same condition as when they started living in it. Your tenant is also responsible for negligent, irresponsible or intentional actions that cause damage to the property. However, the tenant is not responsible for ‘fair wear and tear’.
The property’s original condition should be set out in a condition report and at the end of the tenancy, you or your agent and the tenant must carry out a final inspection of the property.
While this final inspection should be attended by you, the tenant and your agent, if the other party does not show up, the condition report may be filled out without them.
Ending a tenancy agreement can be a stressful time, for both you as the landlord, and your tenant. Seeking expert legal advice to guide you through legally ending a tenancy agreement will ensure that you meet all of the legal requirements of the process. You can feel comfortable knowing that your matter is in capable hands and this can also help to minimise any stress and uncertainty that may arise.
If you would like help with respect to ending tenancy agreements or any other property law matters, please contact our team of experienced property lawyers by submitting an online enquiry form, calling us on 1300 QUINNS or alternatively, +61 2 9223 9166 to arrange a teleconference or appointment.
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