When You Want to Leave

by Tenants' Union of Victoria

When you don’t have a fixed-term tenancy agreement

If you don’t have a tenancy agreement for a fixed term (such as 12 months) or your lease is about to expire, you must give 28 days Notice of Intention to Vacate in writing.

The notice must state the date you will be leaving and this must be 28 days from the day the landlord receives the notice. This means that if you send the notice by registered or certified mail rather than giving it in person, you need to allow an extra 2 business days for delivery. Keep a copy of the notice and the mail receipt so you can prove that you sent it.

If you intend to leave before 28 days are up, you should tell the landlord and return the keys so the premises can be re-let earlier if possible. If other tenants can be found before the 28 days are up, you will not be liable for rent from the date that they move in.

In some circumstances, you only have to give 14 days notice that you intend to leave. This applies when:
  • the landlord has given you a 120-day Notice to Vacate (previously 90 days);
  • the landlord has given you a 60-day Notice to Vacate;
  • you require special or personal care (eg in a nursing home) that you can’t get at your rented property;
  • you have a written offer of public housing; or
  • you are going into temporary crisis accommodation.
You must give the same amount of notice regardless of whether your rent is paid weekly, fortnightly or monthly, but you don’t have to wait until your rent is due. If you want to leave in the middle of a rent period, you should calculate how many days rent you owe and pay that amount as your final rent payment. For example, if you give 28 days notice halfway through a monthly rental period, you will only have to pay about 2 weeks rent. The amount can be calculated by working out your daily rent (your monthly rent times 12, divided by 365) then multiplying that amount by the number of days you will be in the property.

It is illegal to refuse to pay the rent on the grounds that the landlord can use the bond as rent.

Your tenancy ends when you have vacated the property and returned the keys. Make sure you return the keys on the day that you leave, as you will still be in possession of the property (and therefore liable to pay rent) until you give them back. See the Ending a tenancy fact sheet for more information.

When you do have a fixed-term tenancy agreement

If your fixed-term tenancy is about to expire, you can give 14 or 28 days notice in writing (as explained above). If you intend to move out on the date that the fixed term expires, you still have to give written notice. This is because when a fixed-term lease expires, it automatically becomes a periodic lease (ie month to month) until either you or the landlord give notice.

The date that you give as the end-date of your tenancy cannot be earlier than the last day of the fixed term. This applies even when the landlord has given you a Notice to Vacate that expires on the last day of the fixed term.

If you have a fixed-term lease and you want to leave before the expiry date, you will be liable for lease breaking costs (see the Breaking a lease fact sheet for more information). However, if you leave because you received a Notice to Vacate from the landlord (eg a 14 day Notice to Vacate for rent arrears) you generally will not incur the costs of breaking a lease.

When the landlord is in breach

If your landlord or agent is in breach of the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 or has breached a condition of your tenancy agreement, you may be able to end your tenancy early without having to pay the usual lease breaking costs. This applies if the landlord:
  • hasn’t made sure the property was vacant and reasonably clean on the date you were supposed to move in;
  • doesn’t allow you to have ‘quiet enjoyment’ of the property;
  • doesn’t keep the property in good repair
  • doesn’t provide locks, or doesn’t provide you with a key when they change a lock; and
  • doesn’t replace a faulty water appliance with an A-rated appliance.
There is a separate procedure for repairs. See the Repairs fact sheet for more information or contact the Tenants Union or another tenant advice service.

If the landlord fails in these duties, you can send them a Breach of Duty Notice. This notice informs the landlord that they must fix the problem (and if appropriate, pay compensation) within 14 days. See the Breach of Duty Notices fact sheet for more information.

If the landlord still fails to fix the problem after receiving a Breach of Duty Notice, you can apply to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal for a Compliance Order. If the landlord doesn’t comply with the Tribunal order, you can send the landlord a 14-day Notice of Intention to Vacate. You should send the notice by certified or registered mail (allow 2 days for delivery) and keep a copy of the notice and the mailing receipt.

Premises unfit for human habitation

If the property is unsafe, destroyed or unfit for human habitation, you can give an immediate Notice of Intention to Vacate. You will want to be sure that the property meets the Tribunal’s idea of what is ‘unfit for human habitation’. If the landlord disputes your claim, you will need to apply to the Tribunal for a hearing and provide evidence that the property was unfit to live in. Contact the Tenants Union or another tenant advice service for more information.

For more information phone the Tenants Union Advice Line on (03) 9416 2577.



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