Advice is general in nature, consult a legal practitioner for your specific circumstances.

Moving out

You still have all your usual rights around vacating a property. But under the emergency laws, in certain circumstances, you now have the right to give the landlord a 14-day notice of intention to vacate.

Moving out

Tenants have all their regular rights under the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 to give a notice of intention to vacate (see: When you want to leave). For example, if you have a month-to-month (periodic) lease, you only need to give 28 days’ notice of your intention to vacate, and you do not need to provide any reason for vacating.

With the temporary law changes from 29 March 2020, you also have the right to give a notice of intention to vacate with a reduced notice period of not less than 14 days for these reasons:

  • you need special care
  • you have received and accepted an offer of public housing or housing from a registered housing agency
  • you need to move into temporary crisis accommodation
  • you live in special disability accommodation and the landlord’s registration to provide this accommodation has been revoked.

The new laws add two more reasons allowing a reduced notice period of not less than 14 days to end your lease:

  • you are suffering severe hardship
    for example: severe hardship due to family violence/personal violence or severe financial hardship, or
  • the landlord has made an application to VCAT to terminate the tenancy.

You can give more than 14 days’ notice, but you must not give less than 14 days.

It does not matter if your tenancy is periodic or a fixed-term tenancy. These options are open to all tenants.

Even though you have the right to leave early if the landlord applies for a termination order, it’s important to note you are not required to move out. VCAT must consider if making an order to terminate the tenancy is reasonable and proportionate.

Reducing a tenancy lease

If you are in a fixed-term tenancy and you are not sure if your situation allows you to give 14-days’ notice, you can apply to VCAT to ask that your tenancy agreement be reduced.  For example, if you believe your situation would let you give 14 days’ notice for “severe hardship” but the landlord doesn’t agree.

If VCAT reduces your fixed-term lease, you won’t be liable for any costs of breaking the lease. For more information on applying to VCAT, see VCAT – dispute resolutions.

How to give notice

It is important to give your notice of intention to vacate in the correct way, otherwise the landlord may not accept it, may not understand if you have given notice or not understand when you intend to vacate.

To give notice correctly

  1. Give your notice of intention to vacate in writing by letter or email addressed to the landlord or real estate agent.  Do not send a text message or rely on a phone call.
  2. We suggest that you use the Notice to Landlord form from Consumer Affairs Victoria. You can send the form to the landlord or real estate agent by email or by post.
  3. State the date by which you will vacate.
  4. Give the correct minimum notice period — 14 days or 28 days. This means that your vacate date should be not less than 14 days or 28 days from the date of your email or letter.
  5. Make sure you remove all your furniture and belongings from the rented premises, and that you return the keys to the landlord or real estate agent, on or before the vacate date that is stated in your notice of intention to vacate.
Use the Notice to Landlord form

Can I move house during the COVIDSafe Summer restrictions?

Yes.

There are no restrictions on reasons to leave home or distance but you still need to stay safe.

Can friends and family help me move?

Yes.  You can have up to 15 visitors to your home per day, and they can be from different households.

Can I hire a cleaner and removalist?

Yes.  Cleaners and removalists are allowed to work under the COVIDSafe Summer restrictions.

But they will need to have a COVIDSafe plan in place for things like hygiene, physical distancing, face coverings and record keeping to protect you and them. It is strongly recommended anyone entering your home wears a mask.

Resources

Applying to VCAT to reduce a lease
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