(Resolved) Break of Twelve Month Lease Due to Borders Closing Because of COVID-19

Hi.
Due to COVID-19 and the lockdown preventing interstate travellers, we unfortunately had to break our lease early. We are half way through a 12 month lease.

We have returned the keys via post (took 7 days instead of the usual 3 days) back to the agent and are willing to forfeit our 4 weeks bond to cover the required cleaning etc. We left on a Saturday and there was no time to arrange for a cleaner. There are no damages and the apartment is in a clean state.

If it wasn’t for the virus we would have easily stayed and finished our 12 month lease. Since the borders were closing fast we didn’t have a choice but to head back home interstate.

The agent advise a break lease fee of 4-6 weeks. Can the bond be used to cover this fee? The agent threatens to take us to the tribunal for compensation as they want more than the 4 weeks bond.

Are we up “ship creek”?

Thanks.

closed Comments

  • +1 vote

    No, you have an agreement and the landlord has bills to pay.

  •  

    Tell the agent they are dreaming.

    Let them take you to the tribunal. They know they will lose at this particular time.

    •  

      Correction:

      States are yet to pass laws so you can be taken to tribunal and be orderes to cough up.

      Seek a compromise

      • +1 vote

        Even if there is no law yet, the tribunal will very likely side with the OP here because the story sounds very reasonable and given the virus. Agent is always bluffing like that.

  • +3 votes

    Need more facts, as could be just a convenient excuse to use the virus to break your lease.

    1.) did you get the agreement from your agent/landlord first as to what the cost would be
    2.) what does your lease say about the fees to break a lease.
    3.) the government at ths stage should not pay for your lease fee, as you chose to break it.
    4.) did you lose your job? if you did you could access your super, or jobseeker, or ask landlord for a discount.
    5.) why did you have to enter back to another state that you refer to as "home". isnt your home where you live?

    the landlord isnt a charity, and may not be able to lease the place out for many months, they could rightly charge you to the end of the lease.

    •  

      We work interstate. The apartment is where we work and we travel back home every weekend. Our workplace advised that all interstate travellers should head back home and work remotely. Our incomes have decreased a fair bit due to the virus.

      • +2 votes

        which states? interstate could be a 5 minutes, could also be a long plane trip. How do you commute between these 2 places.

        why doesnt your work pay for your lease? are you fulltime or contractors?, are you claiming LAFHA?

        where do you live when not at this place, ie with your parents for free, or do you maintain a 2nd residence.

        either way you have a responsibility to pay your rent and when you work interstate you are taking the risk of doing this, your employer could have also given you the ass 1 week after you started.

  • +1 vote

    Just curious as to why you would need to go back to your original state?

    I would have thought you would be in whichever state you broke your lease in for work which is why you signed a 12 month lease?

  •  

    Hi Congo, alot of people have been waiting for an announcement in relation to residential tennancy agreements, however most of the details have been about commercial leases.

    Whilst the PM has banned evictions, there is not much detail behind this annoucement.

    I beleive some states were looking into how to make breaking a lease due to coronavirus easier, however nothing has been announced to date.

    Your best bet would be to lodge NCAT application for termination of the lease due to hardship.

    The mistake that you have made is ending your lease before applying to the tribunal. Also, you should not have agreed to give them the full bond if the property does not require repairs etc, as this amount could have gone towards the break fee (assuming your lease is in NSW).

    •  

      We advised the agent that they can deduct the cleaning and other costs from the bond. The Lease is in ACT.

  • +1 vote

    As far as I'm aware, the moratorium doesn't exclude tenants from owing money to their landlords down the line - it just stops them being evicted immediately if they're facing financial hardship and can't pay.

    If there's a break lease fee that would apply in non-COVID circumstances then you would probably be liable for it. Whether the landlord wants to chase you down is another matter, as I don't think they're able to do so until this 6 month moratorium is over.

  • -1 vote

    If they're taking the full bond and still want more, they might ask but I highly doubt they'd want the hassle of taking you to a tribunal. Don't pay anything to them and wait to see what they do.

    You'll be fine..

  • +2 votes

    just pay the penalty and move on….

  •  

    Whilst the PM has banned evictions

    NCAT advised this just means the tribunal will not evict anyone, despite no law to that effect.

    •  

      They can still evict based on other items like damage and anti-social behaviour.

  •  

    My understanding of it is that there can be no eviction if you decide to stay where you are and cannot afford rent anymore.
    However, in this case if the tenant decides to break the lease then they will be liable to what normally happens when a lease is broken. This means paying the rent until the properly is re-let to someone else.

  • +4 votes

    Should we pay them extra, on top of the bond?

    You're on the hook for rent until they find someone else to lease it. Plus costs to advertise etc.

    So you're looking at upto 6 months worth of rental payments if they can't find someone.

    •  

      Not if it was the updated contract in nsw. Then lease break is 6 weeks rent if less than 50% of the original lease had completed or 4 weeks rent for once more than 50% of the lease has completed.

      Edit to add link and looks like even newer lease break rules of the contract was signed after 23 March 2020.

      https://www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au/housing-and-property/rent...

      •  

        Not if it was the updated contract in nsw

        When did this come in? The OP signed the contract about ~6 months ago

        even newer lease break rules of the contract was signed after 23 March 2020.

        As above, doesn't apply to OP they signed 6 months ago, no 2 weeks ago.

  •  

    Your contract is binding. The exit clauses/penalties apply.

  •  

    Unless you applied to tribunal to terminate the lease due to severe hardship you are up for whatever the lease agreement states you are, unless something in the agreement contravenes your state law.

  •  

    Throughout the entirety of your post, you never stated who "we" are.

  •  

    News.com.au article so take it as a grain if salt. However a little interesting in regards to not been able to pay rent.

    https://www.news.com.au/world/coronavirus/economy/coronaviru...

  •  
    •  

      Thanks.