Let's face it: sometimes life demands more flexibility that what a standard six- or twelve-month lease affords us.  We may be relocated for work, a family crisis might occur, we might start a new relationship - or end one, or simply decide that our home no longer meets our needs.

So what's the best way to break a lease?

Well, the first step is to read your residential tenancy agreement to find out what is says in relation to breaking your lease and the fees that are payable by you.

The next step is to communicate your intention to break your lease verbally and in writing to your landlord or property manager. 

Most cases involving a break lease will leave you out-of-pocket, but in some cases, if you find a suitable tenant who can take over the lease for you, your costs can be minimised.

My suggestions

  • Be co-operative, flexible, open and communicative when you're dealing with your property manager or landlord
  • Try to negotiate areas of common ground so that the break lease can be as smooth as possible
  • Return vacant possession on the day that you say you will.  This means, leave the property, remove all of your goods and valuables and return the keys on the date that was agreed.  Don't leave things behind ... or fail to move out!
  • Leave the property in excellent condition.  This means clean, all light globes working, lawn moved (if applicable), rubbish removed, everything in working order (or as you found it) and the keys returned.
  • Leave a forwarding address
  • Use your best endeavours to find a tenant (if this is a possibility for you)
  • Understand that in most cases, a break fee will be payable and be co-operative with this payment

Landlords and property managers are people, too, and they will understand that life happens and sometimes we need to move before our lease is up.  The tips above will assist you in dealing with your property manager / landlord for a smooth outcome while minimising your costs.

Melissa Maimann is a Licensed Real Estate Agent, Buyer's Agent and Rental Search / Relocation Agent in Sydney.  She saves tenants time and frustration by offering an affordable service that finds and secures the best rental properties quickly, easily and efficiently.  If you need a Licensed Real Estate Agent to find your next rental home for you, don't hesitate to make contact.