What are lease breaks, and why can't I just leave my property?

By Anika Legal | Sun 9th July '23

What does it mean to break a lease?

Breaking a rental agreement (breaking a lease) happens when a renter leaves the property and:

  • You vacated the property without telling the landlord;
  • You told the landlord you’re vacating the Property but didn’t give a valid reason according to the law to end the rental agreement early; or
  • You told the landlord you’re leaving but didn’t give enough notice to the landlord according to the reason you cited.

What happens if I break a lease?

If you break your lease, then you may have to pay certain costs to cover the landlord’s losses.

This might be things like the cost of advertising the property again or paying the rent until a new renter is found (if you are leaving a fixed term lease early).

These costs should be reasonably calculated and actually incurred.

How do I make sure I don’t accidentally break my lease?

If you are looking to leave a property, you should double check the law that applies to your situation. You should ensure that:

  • You have a valid reason for leaving the property;
  • You know the notice period for that particular reason;
  • You give your Notice of Intention to Vacate to the landlord by citing that reason and with sufficient notice.

The Consumer Affairs Victoria website has more information about how to vacate your property properly to avoid accidentally breaking your lease, and also has a sample ‘Notice of intention to vacate rented premises’ that you can download, fill out and then send to your landlord/agent.

I really can’t live in my property anymore - how do I leave?

The law does provide ways of leaving a property early in certain situations - but you need to make sure you’re following the right methods for doing so to make sure your landlord can’t say you broke your lease.

These situations include:

  • You have issued Notice of Breach twice (such as in relation to the property not being in good repairs), and the landlord has not corrected those breaches (such as by making plans to perform those repairs);
  • The property is totally destroyed or unfit for human habitation;or
  • You have asked the landlord to make accommodations to the property for your disability, but they’ve refused to do so.

If you think any of these situations apply to you, you should get legal advice before you take any action.

We last updated this page in July 2023. Please remember that this is only legal information. If you're thinking about taking action, you should chat to a lawyer for advice about your situation first.

How useful was this content?