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When you rent a place to live in Queensland, if you decide to move out you must follow the required steps to end the agreement. These steps are described in the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008 (‘the Act’).

Ways to end a tenancy

Giving notice

In most situations, if you want to end your tenancy agreement you will need to give written notice.

In residential tenancies you must use a Notice of Intention to Leave (RTA form 13).

In rooming accommodation you must use a Resident Leaving (RTA form R13).

Your notice must state the date you intend to end the agreement (the handover day) and whether you are ending the agreement with grounds, or without grounds.

If you have grounds for ending the agreement (a reason set out in the Act) your notice should state this and be given ‘with grounds’. Otherwise, your notice is ‘without grounds’.

Notice periods

The amount of notice you must give will depend on the type of agreement you have and your reason for leaving. The required notice periods are summarised in the table below.

To ensure that you give enough notice, start counting from the day you expect the lessor, agent or provider to receive your notice, and include the handover day. If you send your notice by post, allow extra time for postal delivery.

Reason for leavingRequired notice period
Without grounds (no reason) in a periodic agreement –
applies if you are ending a periodic, or ongoing week-to-week agreement, without reason.
Two (2) weeks (general tenancies and long tenancy moveable dwelling agreements) .
Seven (7) days (rooming accommodation).
Without grounds (no reason) in a fixed term agreement –
applies if you are ending a fixed term agreement without reason.
This notice is not ineffective if the date you are leaving is before
the fixed term ends (see Breaking a fixed term agreement).
The later of two (2) weeks or the date the fixed term agreement ends (general tenancies and long tenancy moveable dwelling agreements).
The later of seven (7) days or the date the fixed term agreement ends (rooming accommodation).
Unremedied breach by lessor or provider – applies if you have issued the lessor or provider with a Notice to Remedy Breach and the breach was not remedied by the due date.Seven (7) days (general tenancies and rooming accommodation).
Two (2) days (long tenancy moveable dwelling agreements).
Lessor non-compliance with a Tribunal order – applies if the lessor or provider fails to comply with a Tribunal order.Seven (7) days (general tenancies and long tenancy moveable dwelling agreements).
Non-liveability when the premises have been destroyed or made completely or partially unfit to live in, or a moveable dwelling park becomes an unfit place to live, other than because of a breach of the agreement.The agreement ends on the day the notice is given. Applies to both residential tenancies and rooming accommodation. Your notice must be served within one (1) month of the event that caused non-liveability.
Non-liveability when premises can no longer be lawfully used as a residence. This only applies to residential tenancy agreements.The agreement ends on the day the notice is served. Your notice must be served within one month of the event that caused non-liveability.
Compulsory acquisition – applies if premises are subject to compulsory acquisition, for example, a government authority
resumes the premises.
Two (2) weeks for general tenancies and long tenancy moveable dwelling agreements. Your notice must be served within one (1) month of the event.
Lessor’s intention to sell – applies if the premises are advertised for sale or there is an entry to show the premises to a prospective buyer within two months of you signing a tenancy agreement, and you were not notified of the sale prior to signing the agreement.Two (2) weeks for general tenancies and long tenancy moveable dwelling agreements. Your notice must be issued within two (2) months and two (2) weeks after the start of the agreement.
Ending a short tenancy moveable dwelling agreement (an agreement in a moveable dwelling park for less than 42 days).One (1) day after the notice is given; or
Same day if notice is given for non-liveability.

 

Tribunal applications

The Act also sets out certain circumstances where you can apply to the Tribunal for an urgent hearing and request an order to terminate your tenancy agreement. For general tenancy agreements these include:

  • Termination for failure of lessor to remedy breach (s309)
  • Termination due to excessive hardship (s310)
  • Termination due to damage or injury (by lessor) (s311)
  • Termination by cotenant due to damage or injury (by another cotenant) (s312)
  • Termination due to lessor’s objectionable behaviour (s313)
  • Termination for repeated breaches by lessor (s315)

Rooming residents can apply to the Tribunal to terminate a fixed term agreement due to repeated breach by the provider, or due to tenant excessive hardship.

Ending your tenancy checklist

  • Give the right amount of notice in writing, using the correct form. Keep a copy.
  • Pay your rent up to and including the last day on your notice (the handover day).
  • Leave on or before the date on your notice.
  • Leave the premises clean and in the same condition as when you moved in (except for fair wear and tear).
  • Repair any damage that you have caused (you are not responsible for routine repairs and maintenance). Keep receipts (if any).
  • Keep receipts for any professional cleaning you have done (such as carpet cleaning).
  • Gather evidence about the condition of the premises when you move out (such as photos showing the place is clean).
  • Complete an Exit Condition Report and give a copy to your lessor or agent (not required in rooming accommodation).
  • If possible carry out a joint final inspection with the lessor, agent or provider.
  • Return the keys promptly when you move out.
  • Use a Refund of Rental Bond form to apply to the RTA for your bond refund (if you have paid a bond).

Without grounds

If you want to leave without grounds (without reason) you can give a written notice to end your tenancy at the end of your fixed term agreement, or any time during a periodic agreement.

In residential tenancies, you can give two weeks notice using a Notice of Intention to Leave. In rooming accommodation, you can give seven days notice on a Resident Leaving Form.

Leaving before the end of a fixed term agreement

A Notice of Intention to Leave without grounds is not ineffective if the handover date is before the end of a fixed term. However, if you give notice and end your tenancy before the end of your fixed term agreement, your lessor, agent or provider can seek compensation from you for your breach of the agreement.

This compensation claim may include any financial loss the lessor or provider suffers due to your early termination of the tenancy, such as lost rent income and re-letting costs.

If you leave before the end of a fixed term agreement you are likely to have a dispute over the refund of your bond, however, your lessor or provider’s compensation claim is not limited to the bond amount.

If you have to leave before the end of your fixed term consider requesting a mutual termination agreement, or consider applying to the Tribunal for a termination order if you are leaving due to hardship issues.

If you are leaving because of your lessor’s serious breach of the agreement you can end the tenancy “with grounds” if a breach notice has not been remedied, or you can apply to the Tribunal for an urgent hearing to terminate the tenancy due to the lessor’s breach of the agreement.

If you live in shared accommodation see the Tenants Queensland Sharehouse fact sheets on  Ending a co-tenancy when not everyone leaves, and When violence affects your tenancy

Mutual agreement

You and the lessor, agent or provider can agree to end the tenancy at any time by mutual agreement. This mutual termination agreement should be put in writing and be signed by both parties.

This agreement should clearly state the day the tenancy will end and include any agreement about financial liabilities, such as what will happen with the bond and whether or not you, or the lessor or provider, will pay compensation for ending the tenancy.

You can apply to the RTA Dispute Resolution Service for assistance to negotiate a termination agreement with the lessor, agent or provider. If you cannot reach an agreement you can apply to the Tribunal for a decision.

Excessive hardship

If you experience excessive hardship and are unable to continue in a fixed term residential tenancy or rooming accommodation agreement, you can apply directly to the Tribunal for an urgent hearing to terminate your agreement due to excessive hardship. Examples of excessive hardship can include serious illness or loss of employment. If you apply to the Tribunal you will need evidence of your circumstances.

The Tribunal can make an order to terminate the tenancy from an agreed date. The lessor or provider may want to claim financial compensation from you for breaking the agreement early. At the hearing, you can ask the Tribunal to make a final decision about the refund of your rental bond and any compensation that you must pay. The Tribunal may or may not agree to make a final decision about compensation on the day.

If you experience hardship but do not want to apply to the Tribunal, you could negotiate with the lessor, agent or provider to end your tenancy by mutual agreement. If you make an agreement, it must be put in writing.

Breaking a fixed term agreement

When you sign a fixed term agreement, you are signing a legal contract under which you agree to rent the place for an agreed minimum period. If you terminate your tenancy and leave before the end of the fixed term agreement, you may be liable to pay compensation to the lessor or provider for breach of the contract. Your lessor or provider may claim this compensation from your bond or seek additional compensation from you.

Your financial liabilities may include, but are not limited to:
  • Compensation for any loss of rent until a new tenant or resident moves in, or the fixed term expires, whichever occurs first.
  • Advertising costs.
  • A re-letting fee (a maximum equal to one week rent plus GST).
To reduce the cost of breaking your agreement early you could:
  • Negotiate a written mutual termination agreement with your lessor, agent or provider;
  • Apply to the Tribunal for a termination order, if applicable; or
  • Advertise yourself, or ask the lessor, agent or provider to advertise and find a new tenant or resident to move in.
  • Seek written agreement to transfer your tenancy to a replacement tenant or resident,  or to a remaining occupant.

Duty to minimise financial loss

The lessor, agent or provider must take reasonable steps to keep their losses to a minimum, and cannot claim compensation for any expense that could have reasonably been avoided.

For example, the lessor or provider should advertise the property at the same price and act reasonably to find new tenants as quickly as possible.

Transfer and sub-letting

If you have a residential tenancy agreement, you can seek written permission from the lessor or agent, to sublet the premises or transfer the agreement to prospective new tenants. If you need to move out before the end of a fixed term agreement this is one way to minimise any compensation claim against you.

The lessor or agent cannot unreasonably refuse your request to transfer or sublet the premises and cannot ask you to pay a fee for their agreement to approve a transfer or sublet. You are also not liable for the cost of preparing a new agreement. However, they can request compensation for reasonable expenses incurred in agreeing to the transfer or sublet.

If you have a dispute over your request to transfer or sublet premises, you can apply to the RTA Dispute Resolution Service for assistance. If the RTA cannot help you to resolve the dispute, you can apply to the Tribunal for a decision.

If you rent from the State government, a community housing provider, your employer, or if you are in a short tenancy (moveable dwelling) agreement, your lessor has unqualified discretion when deciding your request to transfer or sublet.

Transfer

A transfer is when you pass all of your legal obligations under the tenancy agreement to a new tenant. Your lessor or agent must give written consent before a new tenant can move in. The new tenant may be required to go through an application process. Any change to an existing shared tenancy agreement must be signed by all parties. This change can be initialed on the original agreement or included in a signed attachment. If a new tenant takes over the whole tenancy, the lessor or agent will usually ask them to sign a new tenancy agreement.

Subletting

Subletting is when you rent out part, or all of the premises, to someone else. You must have written permission from the lessor or agent before you can sublet the premises. As head-tenant, you continue to be responsible for the tenancy, whether or not you are living in the premises. You are responsible for the actions of your sub-tenant, including any unpaid rent or damage to the premises.

When you sublet to someone else, you become their lessor and will have the same responsibilities as a lessor under the Act, such as an obligation to lodge any bond payment, ensure there is a written agreement, and provide rent receipts or keep a rent record.

For more information, see the Resolving Disputes Tenancy Facts, or contact a tenancy advice service.

Leaving if the lessor or provider is in breach

If your lessor or provider fails to remedy a breach of the agreement, you may be able to take steps to end the agreement. You must first use a Notice to Remedy Breach form 11 to notify the lessor or provider about the breach. It is important to have evidence of the breach and copies of the notices you have issued.

If the lessor or provider does not fix a breach by the due date on the notice you may take steps to end the agreement ‘with grounds’ due to the lessor, or provider’s, unremedied breach of the agreement.

If you have a fixed term residential tenancy agreement a breach must be serious to justify ending the agreement early. If you are unsure you can apply to the Tribunal for a hearing and seek an order about the breach.

Rooming accommodation: In rooming accommodation, if the provider fails to remedy a breach of agreement you can give seven days notice using a Resident Leaving form. This applies to both periodic and fixed term agreements.

Periodic residential tenancies: In residential tenancies, if you have a periodic agreement and the lessor fails to remedy a breach of the agreement, you can issue a Notice of Intention to Leave with grounds, due to an unremedied breach.

You must give at least seven days notice for general tenancies, two days notice in long tenancy moveable dwelling agreements, or one days notice for short tenancy moveable dwelling agreements.

Fixed term residential tenancies: In residential tenancies, if you have a fixed term tenancy the breach must be serious to justify ending the agreement early.

You can give a Notice of Intention to Leave to end your fixed term tenancy “with grounds” if the lessor fails to remedy a serious breach of the agreement. However, if you are leaving before the end of a fixed term agreement your lessor or agent may dispute your notice and try to claim compensation from you.

If you have given the lessor a Notice to Remedy Breach but the breach is not remedied by the due date, you can apply to the Tribunal for an urgent hearing to terminate your fixed term tenancy because the lessor has failed to remedy a serious breach of the agreement.

Disputes about notices

If you issue a Notice to Remedy Breach, Notice of Intention of Leave, or Resident Leaving Form, the lessor, agent or provider may dispute your notice. If they disagree with your notice they can apply to the RTA Dispute Resolution Service for conciliation to resolve the dispute.

In residential tenancies, it can be risky for tenants to end a fixed term agreement early, without a Tribunal order, as the lessor or agent may dispute your reason for leaving. After you move out the lessor or agent may dispute your bond refund and claim compensation from you for ending your fixed term tenancy early.

If you want to end a fixed term agreement early because the lessor, agent or provider, has failed to remedy a breach of the agreement, make sure you have copies of the notices you have given, and evidence about the seriousness of the breach. This is important if there is a dispute about your notices.

Using a Notice to Remedy Breach form

If the lessor, agent or provider is in breach of the agreement, you can give them a Notice to Remedy Breach. On this notice write the details of the breach, what the lessor or provider must do to remedy (fix) the breach and the date the breach must be fixed.

In residential tenancies, you must give the lessor or agent at least seven days notice to remedy the breach from the date they receive the notice. In rooming accommodation, your notice should give the provider five days notice to remedy the breach.

If the lessor or provider does not remedy the breach by the due date on the notice, you can apply to the RTA Dispute Resolution Service for conciliation to resolve the dispute. If the RTA is unable to help you reach an agreement, you can apply to the Tribunal for a decision about the breach. In some cases you can apply directly to the Tribunal for an urgent hearing without applying to the RTA.

Repeated breaches

If the lessor, agent or provider breaches the agreement in the same way three times in a 12 month period, you can apply to the Tribunal for an urgent hearing to end the tenancy because of ‘repeated breach’ of the agreement.

This applies if you gave the lessor, agent or provider a Notice to Remedy Breach on two occasions for a similar breach and each time they remedy the breach by the due date. If they breach the agreement in a similar way for a third time (within a 12 month period) you can apply directly to the Tribunal for an urgent hearing to terminate your tenancy due to repeated breaches. You do not need to issue a third Notice to Remedy Breach or a notice to end the agreement before you apply to the Tribunal.

The repeated breaches must relate to certain sections of the Act including; general obligations regarding repair and maintenance of the premises or facilities, unlawful entry, breach of quiet enjoyment, or a breach of a provision about rent payments.

In the Tribunal, you will need to show evidence that you have issued two previous breach notices and that the repeated breaches are serious enough to justify early termination of the agreement.

In making a decision, the Tribunal may consider the seriousness of the breach, the period in which the breaches were committed, and the length of the tenancy. If the Tribunal agrees to terminate your tenancy agreement, it may also make an order for compensation if you incur costs as a result of the lessor or provider’s repeated breaches.

Leaving due to damage, injury or harassment

If you have a residential tenancy agreement, you can apply to the Tribunal for an urgent hearing to terminate your agreement if there has been damage, injury or harassment by the lessor or a co-tenant. In cases of domestic violence occupants or domestic associates can also apply to the Tribunal about the tenancy.

Damage or injury:

If the lessor or a co-tenant has caused or is likely to cause serious damage to you, to someone you have allowed onto the property, or to your possessions, you can apply directly to the Tribunal for an urgent hearing to end the agreement.

If you have applied to the Tribunal for a termination order, and you have good reason to believe that the lessor or a co-tenant may cause further damage or injury, you can also make an urgent application to the Tribunal for a restraining order.

Lessor’s objectionable behaviour:

If the lessor has harassed, intimidated or verbally abused you or someone you have allowed onto the premises, you can apply directly to the Tribunal for an urgent hearing to end the agreement. The Tribunal may grant the order if it is satisfied that you have established the basis of the application and the behaviour justifies the termination of the agreement.

Domestic violence – application by occupants:

A person who is an occupant of the premises, or is the domestic associate of the tenant (eg: spouse, partner, family member, carer) can apply to the Tribunal to terminate the tenancy in cases where the tenant has committed an act of domestic violence, or caused damage to the premises or injury towards the applicant.

The applicant can also apply to remain in the premises and be named as the tenant. instead of the tenant who committed an act of domestic violence.

In deciding these matters, the Tribunal must consider the domestic violence issues and the lessor must be given an opportunity to be heard.

If you are making an application to the Tribunal about domestic violence issues it is important to have evidence to support your application, such as evidence you have applied for a domestic violence order, or support letters from a social worker, health worker or police.

See the Sharehouse fact sheets on the Tenants Queensland website for information on Ending a co-tenancy when not everyone leaves, and When violence affects your tenancy

If you abandon the premises

If you have a residential tenancy agreement and move out without giving a notice to end the agreement, you are abandoning the premises. If this happens, the lessor or agent can take steps to terminate the agreement.

If a lessor or agent believes that you have abandoned the premises they can either deliver an Abandonment Termination Notice to the premises, or apply directly to the Tribunal for an urgent order declaring that the premises are abandoned.

If you receive an Abandonment Termination Notice and disagree with the notice, you must respond within seven days. If you do not respond within seven days, the premises are taken to be abandoned.

If you have not abandoned the premises, you can apply to the Tribunal to dispute the abandonment notice. If the Tribunal has made an abandonment order, you can also apply to the Tribunal for a review of the order. In both instances, you must lodge your application within 28 days.

If you abandon the premises, the lessor can apply to the Tribunal to claim compensation from you for any costs they incur because of your abandonment. If you abandon the premises and the amount you owe is greater than the bond, this is grounds for the lessor to list your details on a ‘bad tenant’ database.

For more information see the Tenancy Databases Tenancy Facts.

Death of a sole tenant or resident

If a sole tenant or sole resident dies and no other action is taken to end the agreement, the agreement ends one month after the death of the sole tenant in a general tenancy, or two weeks after the death of the sole resident in rooming accommodation. If a representative of either party gives notice to end the agreement because of the death of the tenant or resident, the agreement will end two weeks after the notice was given in general tenancies, or seven days in rooming accommodation. Alternatively, the parties can agree to end the agreement at an earlier date, or the lessor, agent or provider can apply to the Tribunal for an order to terminate the agreement.

For more information about resolving disputes, see Resolving Tenancy Disputes Tenancy Facts.

Moving out tips

When you move out on, or before, your handover day make sure you take all your goods with you and promptly return all keys. You can also gather evidence regarding the condition of the premises.

Your obligations

You must leave the place clean, in a similar condition to the start of the tenancy, but are not liable for general maintenance and reasonable fair wear and tear.

To show you have met your obligations you can gather evidence, such as photos,  cleaning receipts and a copy of your completed Exit Condition Report. This evidence is important if you have a dispute over the bond refund.

Your Exit Condition Report

You can use an Exit Condition Report (RTA form 14) to record whether or not the place is clean and in good condition when you leave. This form is available online from the RTA at www.rta.qld.gov.au

It is the tenant’s responsibility to fill in an Exit Condition Report and give a copy to the agent or lessor when you return the keys. In rooming accommodation Exit reports are not required but are useful if you have paid a bond.

When you complete your Exit report, give a copy to the lessor, agent, or provider to complete. Remember to keep a copy for your own records.

The lessor or agent has three business days to conduct the exit inspection, fill in the Exit Condition Report, and return a signed copy to you at the forwarding address you included on your form.

The lessor or agent has an obligation to act reasonably to minimise their costs. If the exit inspection shows outstanding cleaning or other issues, you should be given a reasonable opportunity to attend to these issues.

Getting your bond back

At the end of your tenancy you can use a Refund of Rental Bond (RTA form 4) to apply to the RTA for a refund of your bond. Always fill in the bond refund amounts before you sign the Refund of Rental Bond form, as signing a blank form is like signing a blank cheque.

You can lodge your own Refund of Rental Bond form with the RTA as soon as the tenancy ends. How the RTA deals with your bond refund claim will depend on whether you and the lessor, agent or provider, agree on the bond refund.

If there is a dispute over the bond refund the RTA will act on the first bond claim that they receive. When moving it is important to notify the RTA of your new address so you are kept informed about any bond matters.

For more information, see the Rental Bond Tenancy Facts.

Withdrawing your notice

If you have a residential tenancy agreement and issue a Notice of Intention to Leave, but later decide you want to continue in the tenancy, contact the lessor or agent to withdraw your notice.

You must get written agreement from the lessor or agent to withdraw your notice. You can only withdraw your notice before the handover day stated in the notice. It is up to your lessor or agent to decide whether you can continue with the agreement.

If your situation has changed and you need more time to move out talk to the lessor or agent about this and try to reach an agreement.

If you do not withdraw the notice, and do not move out on the handover day, your lessor or agent can apply to the Tribunal to terminate the tenancy due to your failure to leave as intended. If you want to stay, you should attend the hearing to explain your situation and ask the Tribunal to allow you to continue with the tenancy.