What is excessive hardship?

The Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008 (Qld) allows a tenant to apply to the Tribunal to end their tenancy on grounds of excessive hardship. Excessive hardship is not defined in the Act, however, excessive hardship usually involves a change in circumstances subsequent to signing the lease and your new circumstances mean it is difficult or impossible to continue living in the property. The loss of employment/income limiting your ability to pay the rent or the onset of a serious illness requiring treatment in another place are examples where the Tribunal might allow an excessive hardship termination of an agreement.

Excessive hardship requires an urgent application to the Tribunal (QCAT) for a termination order. A termination order may mean you (the tenant) will no longer have to pay “rent” from the date of termination or have to pay any compensation for loss of rent or “break lease fee” to the lessor from the date of termination. This is because you will not be seen to be in breach of the tenancy agreement as the tenancy was terminated by the Tribunal.

If you think you are or will be in a situation of excessive hardship you can also approach the lessor (or agent) and request a mutual termination agreement. This is a written agreement between the tenant/s and the lessor, setting out the terms on which the tenancy agreement will terminate. It is best to include a term stating that the agreement is full and final settlement of all claims by the parties. A mutual termination agreement does not require an application to the Tribunal but it needs to be in writing and signed by all the parties to the tenancy agreement.

Whether you successfully negotiate a mutual termination agreement or are awarded an excessive hardship termination by the Tribunal, you must still leave the premises clean and in the same condition as it was received in, except for fair, wear and tear. Make sure you still complete an exit condition report and go through the usual bond return processes.

For more information please see our factsheet.

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