If you know in advance what’s involved in ending your lease, things are much likelier to run smoothly. Which is why we’ve put together a few tips to guide you through the process of moving out of a rental property.
While the advice applies to most rental property such as houses and flats, the rules are different for rooming houses and caravan parks.
Take notice of the notice period
Depending on the circumstances, you may have to give up to 28 days notice of your leaving. Of course, if the property has been damaged to the point of being uninhabitable, you can leave and stop paying rent immediately after serving a Notice to Landlord explaining why you are leaving.
The notice periods that the landlord or agent must give to tenants at the beginning of every tenancy are outlined in Consumer Affairs Victoria’s guide Renting a home: a guide for tenants. Notice periods can also be found on each state’s respective Consumer Affairs website.
If you don’t give notice correctly, you may have to pay rent after you move out. This could last until the relevant notice period expires, or a new tenant moves in (whichever happens first).
Share houses mean shared responsibility
If more than one tenant’s name appears on the lease, you are co-tenants.
In a co-tenancy, you are all equally responsible for following the correct procedures when ending the lease.
If another tenant takes your place when you leave, you’ll need to send a completed tenant transfer form, which the new tenant must also sign, to the Residential Tenancies Bond Authority (RTBA).
Make sure your name is taken off the lease. Otherwise, you could be held jointly responsible for any damage or repairs that occur after you move out.
You’ll need your landlord and co-tenants to agree to your name being taken off the lease.
When one co-tenant leaves, sorting out the return of bond money is a private matter between you and the other tenants.
When you’re not the main tenant in the rental property
If you rented a room from a tenant whose name is on the lease, they are the head tenant and you are a sub-tenant. When you leave, you must give them proper notice, the length of which depends on your reason for leaving.
If you paid a bond, the head tenant was obliged to lodge it with the Residential Tenancies Bond Authority (RTBA). The head-tenant is, in effect, your landlord in the eyes of the RTBA.
Getting your bond money back after you move out
You should receive your bond back in two to three business days if:
- you follow the process correctly
- the signatures on your bond claim form match the RTBA’s records
- the RTBA has your bank account details
If the RTBA doesn’t have your bank account details, it can send a cheque to a forwarding address.
Hopefully, getting your bond money back won’t be an issue. If you meet all the conditions of your lease and leave the property in the same condition as when you moved in, you should get the full amount back.
Try to agree with your landlord or agent on the amount to be returned. If you can’t reach agreement, you can apply to your state tribunal for a hearing to resolve the matter.
Never sign a Bond Claim form that doesn’t show the amount you’re going to receive as a bond repayment.
To help avoid problems:
- check the property against the condition report from when you moved in
- compare the property now to any photos taken at the start of the tenancy
- take photos when you leave
Your things must vacate the property too
If you leave anything behind when you leave a rented home, you will have to arrange with the landlord to collect them as soon as possible.
They cannot refuse to return them, even if you owe rent.
But that’s not to say landlords have to store your things indefinitely. They can dispose of perishables and some other items immediately. And so it pays to double check the property before leaving it for good on moving day.
Save some energy for notifying utility providers
Call your utility providers to let them know that you are vacating your rental property. Before you make the call, ask your landlord or agent whether they want the power left on until the final inspection. If they do, make sure to tell your energy supplier to disconnect the power soon afterwards.
You’ll need to give your utility providers plenty of notice of your leaving, so that they can organise final meter readings.
Remember to provide them with your new address if you’d like to stick with the same providers.
It’s also worth leaving a forwarding address with your landlord or agent.
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