What do you need to know if you want to end your tenancy early due to COVID-19?


Photo Courtesy: Hugo Sousa collected from Unsplash


COVID-19 have been having a major impact on the Victorian economy. A large number of people had lost their jobs and income due to extended periods of lockdown. To help people to cope with the economic implications of the pandemic, the Victorian Government has introduced changes to the renting laws. The new laws have been extended and will last until at least 28 March 2021. These laws change the way you can end your tenancy agreement 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 tenant and want to end your tenancy, the following are the things that you need to know:

1. When can I end my fixed-term lease early?

A fixed-term lease means that you and your landlord have agreed that you will rent the home for a certain amount of time. Usually, a fixed-term lease is for six months or a year. You might be able to end your tenancy early if you are suffering severe hardship either financial or domestic.


You can discuss your situation with your landlord and ask if they agree to end the tenancy early. If they agree, you should ask for this in writing.


If your landlord does not agree, you may still be able to end your tenancy early, if you are suffering from severe hardship. Severe hardship could include:

  • being unable to pay rent for a reason related to COVID-19;

  • 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.

You may also be able to end your tenancy agreement early if your landlord has applied for an order to end your lease.


2. What are the measures I need to take to end my tenancy agreement early?


To end the tenancy early you can take the following steps-

  • You should give your landlord or their agent a notice saying that you intend to end the tenancy in 14 days. It is called a Notice of Intention to Vacate. The notice should contain the reasons behind your intention to vacate the property. The notice must be in writing and signed by you and other tenants if there are any. If you need a form and more information please visit Consumer Affairs Victoria tenant giving notice of intention to vacate.

  • If your landlord disagrees with your notice, you can apply to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal to make an order ending your tenancy early. The hearing of the tribunal will be conducted over the telephone. You will not have to attend the tribunal in person.

3. What will happen if I apply to the tribunal to end my fixed-term tenancy early?

If you want to apply to the tribunal for an order to end your tenancy early, you need to observe the following steps:

  • You have to register your application with Consumer Affairs Victoria.

  • Consumer Affairs Victoria will decide whether your application should go through its new dispute resolution process or be referred to the tribunal.

  • If Consumer Affairs Victoria decides your application can go to the tribunal, it will give you a reference number to put on your application.

  • You can then apply to the tribunal online or by post.

  • The tribunal will notify you of the date and time of your hearing and will call you at that time. It is important that you answer your phone at the time of the hearing. You should make sure that your phone is with you on the specified date. You also need to name sure that you are available for a few hours on that day, in case the tribunal is running behind or the hearing takes some time.

  • You will need to prove that you will suffer severe hardship if your lease does not end early. You can explain your situation to the tribunal;

  • It is recommended that you should prepare and make available for the tribunal any documents that you have to prove your case. This could include:

  1. a copy of your intervention order

  2. bank statements

  3. a letter saying you have lost your job.

  • You should include this proof with your application. Otherwise, you must email it to the tribunal at least 48 hours before your hearing.

  • The tribunal will also consider whether ending the lease early will cause hardship for the landlord or other tenants. They will be able to speak at the hearing to say what effect it will have on them if the lease ends early.

  • If the tribunal thinks there is enough evidence that you will suffer the most hardship, it can make an order for your lease to finish early.

  • If the tribunal makes an order to end your lease early, you will not have to pay any costs for breaking your lease.

4. How can I end my periodic tenancy early?

If you have a periodic / month-to-month tenancy, you can still give your landlord 28 days’ notice showing your intention to leave. That means you give them a notice 28 days in advance.


If you are suffering severe hardship or your landlord has applied for an order ending your tenancy, you can give your landlord 14 days’ notice saying that you will be leaving.

Severe hardship could include:

  • being unable to pay rent because of a reason related to COVID-19;

  • 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.


5. How do I end my periodic tenancy?

If you want to end your periodic tenancy, you need to observe the following steps:

  • You need to give your landlord, or their agent, a notice of intention to vacate and tell them your reason for your leaving the property;

  • The notice must be in writing and signed by you and any other tenants.

  • If you are ending your tenancy early because of severe hardship, you must give this notice at least 14 days before you leave and stop paying rent. If you do not give 14 days’ notice, you may have to pay extra fees or costs.

  • 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 you need more information or help with ending your tenancy agreement early, please feel free you call us on +61418631798 or email us on bonhi@lawcircuit.com.au


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