Can you End a Fixed Term Residential Tenancy Early?

20 July, 2023 | Vicki Poland

Residential tenancy is one of the most regulated areas of law that people come into contact with on a day-to-day basis.  A landlord or tenant cannot simply give notice to the other to end a fixed-term tenancy early.  But there are some options available to terminate a fixed term tenancy in certain limited circumstances

Agreement of both landlord and tenant

Landlords and tenants can decide together to end the tenancy early if both sides agree.

Assignment of the tenancy

If a tenant finds another tenant willing to take over their fixed-term tenancy, there is a process to write to their landlord for consent to the assignment.  The landlord cannot withhold consent unreasonably, but they are allowed to attach conditions, so they are no worse off.

Severe hardship for landlord or tenant

There is also the right to apply to the Tenancy Tribunal for early release if either the tenant or the landlord meets certain criteria, including severe hardship caused by an unforeseen change in their circumstances.

To terminate a fixed term for severe hardship, the Tribunal would need to be satisfied that the applicant’s hardship is bad enough, and it would consider any hardship that termination might cause for the other party. The Tribunal has a range of options open to it, including setting an appropriate termination date, varying the parties’ obligations, and perhaps awarding some compensation to the other party if appropriate.

Before any application is made to the Tribunal it is always advised that the tenant and landlord discuss any change in circumstances and try to reach an agreement together.

Changes to body corporate rules

If there is a change in body corporate rules that negatively impacts the applicant, and again if satisfied on the evidence the Tribunal may decide to end the fixed-term tenancy earlier.

Family Violence

In 2021 new tenancy laws came into effect. One of these is that tenancies can be terminated if family violence or landlord assault has occurred. The criteria, which must be supported by the required documentation, can include:

  • Family Violence experienced by a tenant, which can allow termination without financial penalty on short notice; or
  • Physical Assault: A landlord can issue a 14-day notice to terminate the tenancy if the tenant has assaulted the landlord, the owner, a member of their family or the landlord’s agent, and the Police have laid charges against the tenant in respect of the assault.

Are you a landlord or tenant and need assistance to end a fixed-term tenancy early? Our experienced team of legal professionals is here to help. Don’t face it alone — let us provide the support you need to make informed decisions. Reach out now to schedule an appointment to see how we can help.

Contact our tenancy team today:

Mikayla Sagar: Litigation Executive

Phone: 09 837 6890


Do you need advice on ending a residential tenancy? Contact Vicki today to set up an appointment.

email Vicki
+64 9 837 6890

About the author

Vicki Poland is an accomplished litigation lawyer with a passion for providing comprehensive and personalised legal solutions to her clients. With a strong and diverse background in journalism, she brings a rounded perspective and exceptional communication skills to her practice.
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