How to end your lease early when it is no longer affordable
Many renters seek our help when they find they can no longer afford their rent and want to end their lease to move to a more affordable home. This situation has become more pressing during Covid-19 with its impact on employment and personal income.
The options for ending your lease
If you want to move out before your lease (tenancy) ends, an estate agent will usually insist you find someone else to take over your lease. While it is possible to transfer (assign) a lease to someone else, that involves a bit of work and you need to get the landlord’s consent — or an order from the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT), if the landlord doesn’t consent.
This is one way to get out of your lease, but there are other easier ways under the COVID-19 emergency measures.
Ending your lease (tenancy) early
Under the temporary COVID-19 laws if you are experiencing “severe hardship”, such as severe financial hardship, you can end your lease — even if it’s a fixed term lease — by giving 14 days written notice of your intention to vacate. You can give more notice if you need it. There will be no lease breaking costs if you end your lease this way.
Make sure that the notice is given in writing and includes the date you will be moving out, otherwise no-one will know when the notice period starts.
Reducing the term of your lease
If you’re not sure your situation would allow you to give a 14-day notice, another option is to apply to VCAT for an order that your fixed term lease be reduced. If VCAT makes that order, there will be no lease breaking costs.
There’s some basic information on ending your lease early during the COVID-19 emergency measures here: Moving out Covid-19
If you want to stay
If you don’t want to move, but are having trouble paying the rent, you can apply for a rent reduction.
You have the right to seek a rent reduction from the landlord or agent. For more information see: Rent reductions Covid-19
Rent Relief Grant
If your rent is reduced, but you’re still paying more than 30% of your income in rent, you may be eligible for a Victorian Government rent relief grant. For more information see: Rent relief grant Covid-19
So, check your best option before agreeing to seek that lease transfer (assignment), and when in doubt, call Tenants Victoria on (03) 9416 2577 for advice.