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This article was written by Sally Crosswell

Sally Crosswell has a Bachelor of Laws (Hons), a Bachelor of Communication and a Master of International and Community Development. She also completed a Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice at the College of Law. A former journalist, Sally has a keen interest in human rights law.

Breaking A Residential Lease (Qld)


Residential leases in Queensland are covered by the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008. The Act sets out the permitted reasons and the process for terminating a lease.

How a lease ends

Section 277 of the Act states a residential lease ends if:

  • there is written agreement of the lessor and tenant;
  • the lessor gives a notice to leave, and the tenant hands over vacant possession of the premises on or after the handover day;
  • the tenant gives a notice of intention to leave to the lessor, and the tenant hands over vacant possession of the premises on or after the handover day;
  • a tribunal makes an order terminating the lease;
  • the tenant abandons the premises;
  • a mortgagee takes possession of the premises;
  • a sole tenant dies.

If a tenant wants to break the lease

If a tenant wants to break a residential lease, they must inform the lessor in writing, via a notice of intention to leave (Form 13). The tenant may be asked to pay reasonable reletting and advertising costs, as well as rent until a new tenant is found or until the agreement ends, whichever occurs first. The lessor must mitigate any loss associated with the lease break.

One option is for the tenant and the lessor to negotiate an agreement to end the lease early on a specific date. Another option is for the lessor to transfer the tenant’s interest in the property to another person.

A tenant can issue a notice of intention to leave to a lessor for reasons such as when:

  • the lessor has not complied with a notice to remedy breach given by the tenant;
  • the lessor has not complied with a Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) order;
  • the premises have been destroyed or made partially or completely unfit to live in;
  • the premises can longer be used lawfully as a residence;
  • the premises have been acquired compulsorily by an authority;
  • the premises are put up for sale within the first 2 months of the tenancy.

If a lessor wants to break the lease

If a lessor wants to break a residential lease, they must inform the tenant in writing, via a notice to leave (Form 12). This notice can be issued to a tenant in situations such as when:

  • the tenant has not complied with a notice to remedy breach given by the lessor;
  • the tenant has not complied with a QCAT order;
  • the premises have been destroyed or made partially or completely unfit to live in;
  • the premises can longer be used lawfully as a residence;
  • the premises have been acquired compulsorily by an authority;
  • the lessor has entered a contract to sell the premises.

Serious breach

A notice to leave can be issued when the lessor reasonably believes the tenant, or a person permitted on the premises by the tenant, has used the premises for an illegal purpose, destroyed or seriously damaged the premises, endangered people or property, or seriously interfered with the reasonable peace, comfort or privacy of another tenant.

The lessor also has the option to negotiate an agreement with the tenant to end the lease early on a specific date.

Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal

In certain situations, lessors and tenants can apply to QCAT for a hearing to terminate the lease.

Excessive hardship

This can apply where the tenant or lessor is experiencing or will experience excessive hardship, such as serious financial or health problems, because of the agreement.

Failure to remedy breach

Either party can apply for an order if the other party has failed to comply with a notice to remedy breach.

Damage or injury

The tenant can apply for an order if the lessor has intentionally or recklessly caused or is likely to cause serious damage to the tenant’s belongings, or injury to the tenant or someone else at the property.

A co-tenant can apply for an order if another cotenant has intentionally or recklessly caused or is likely to cause serious damage to the premises, or injury to the applicant or someone else at the property.

An occupant of premises under a lease who is not a tenant can apply for an order if the tenant has intentionally or recklessly caused or is likely to cause serious damage to the premises, or injury to the applicant or someone else at the property.

The “domestic associate” (partner, family member or informal carer) of a tenant, who lives at the premises with the tenant, can apply for an order if the tenant has intentionally or recklessly caused or is likely to cause serious damage to the premises, or has committed domestic violence against the domestic associate.

The lessor can apply for an order if the tenant has intentionally or recklessly caused or is likely to cause serious damage to the premises, or injury to the lessor or someone else at the property.

A party can apply for an interim order from the tribunal to prevent further damage or injury before a termination order can be determined.

Objectionable behaviour

Either party can apply for an order if the other party has harassed, intimidated or verbally abused them or or someone else at the property. A lessor can also apply if the tenant is causing or has caused a nuisance to neighbours.

Repeated breaches

If either party has given the other party 2 notices to remedy breach, for separate breaches, and the breaches were remedied but then the other party committed a further breach, the non-breaching party can apply for an order.

Failure to leave

This applies when a lessor has given a notice to leave to a tenant and the tenant has not handed over vacant possession of the premises when required.

For advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.

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