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Communtity Law Manual | Tenancy & housing | Moving out: When and how tenancies end

Moving out: When and how tenancies end


Residential Tenancies Act 1986, ss 50, 60A

A tenancy usually ends in the following ways:

  • if it’s a “periodic” tenancy (one that runs indefinitely), it ends by you or the landlord giving the necessary amount of notice
  • if it’s a fixed-term tenancy, it ends by the tenancy reaching the agreed end date.

The Tenancy Tribunal can also make an order ending a tenancy in some cases – for example, if you’re three weeks or more behind in the rent.

Special COVID-19 rules: Freeze on evictions

COVID-19 Response (Urgent Management Measures) Act 2020; Residential Tenancies Act 1986, Schedule 5, cl 3–10

The government brought in a freeze on evictions by landlords for three months from 26 March to 25 June 2020 (even if you had already given notice). You the tenant could also legally cancel (“revoke”) any termination notice that you had given earlier, so that you could stay in the property during the COVID-19 lockdown.

During this freeze you were still able to give notice to end the tenancy in the usual way if you wanted to.

Fixed-term tenancies that ended during the freeze period (26 March to 25 June) automatically changed to become periodic (indefinite) tenancies, unless both you and your landlord agreed otherwise.

There were some exceptions where evictions were allowed:

  • if you had substantially damaged the property
  • if you had assaulted or threatened to assault the landlord, their family, or a neighbour
  • if you had abandoned the property
  • if you had engaged in “anti-social behaviour”. This is defined as harassment or any intentional act that causes significant alarm, distress or nuisance
  • if you were 60 days or more behind in rent (as opposed to the usual 21 days). However, there was some leeway here – the Tribunal had to consider the fairness of the situation and whether the tenant had made reasonable attempts to pay
  • if the property was uninhabitable.

If your landlord breached these rules they could be fined up to $6,500.

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