Breaking A Lease: What’s Involved?

Most leases involve a fixed-term agreement – a set minimum period of time the tenancy must last, such as six or twelve months. But sometimes tenants face circumstances that mean fulfilling a fixed-term lease just isn’t realistic.

Whether it’s a relationship breakup, a disagreement between housemates, or simply a decision to move out early, there’ll probably be a lease break involved. We’ve answered a few common questions about breaking a lease and how you can make the process easier.

What happens if I want to break a lease?

If difficulties arise in your shared tenancy, you may find yourself in one of the following situations:

  • One person agrees to move out while the other tenant/s will stay
  • All tenants agree to move out
  • There is a dispute over who gets to stay and who has to move out.

Whichever of these applies to you, we strongly advise speaking to your property manager as a first port of call.

In the first two cases, there is the option of transferring your tenancy to another tenant. You’re free to suggest this if you know of a potential tenant, but bear in mind that the property owner does not have to agree with this.

So what happens if there are disagreements and tenants don’t want to live together anymore – but none are willing to move out voluntarily?

Unfortunately, this is something that needs to be resolved between tenants. Owners are not likely to get in the middle of such a disagreement – and all tenants will still be liable for rent payments until you figure it out.

How do I let my landlord know?

You must give notice in writing if you’re intending on breaking a lease agreement. Type up an email or letter that your property manager can pass onto the property owner.

Try to give as much notice as possible before you plan to move out. We understand that break-ups can happen suddenly and messily, but the more notice you’re able to give, the less it will potentially cost you.

Speaking of costs…

What are the costs involved in breaking a lease?

When you break a lease during a fixed-term agreement, there are a few costs you may be liable for, including rent payments until keys are returned.

A break fee may also be specified in the tenancy agreement. This is a fixed fee that you will pay no matter how quickly another tenant is found.

If the lease was for three years or fewer, the break fee will be:

  • Six weeks’ rent if you break the lease in the first half of the fixed term
  • Four weeks’ rent if you break the lease in the second half of the fixed term.

If your initial lease agreement was for more than three years, and the owner still chose to include a break fee, this will have been determined and agreed upon when your lease was first drawn up.

(Please note: break fees for fixed-term leases are currently being reviewed as part of the reforms process for the Residential Tenancies Act. We’ll update this post when the new break fees come into effect.)

Will I get my bond back if I break a lease?

Yes, you are entitled to a return of your share of the bond when you vacate the property. You should talk to your property manager to arrange this. If you and your partner shared the cost of the bond at the start of your tenancy, this is another thing you’ll have to sort out between yourselves.

If you fail to pay the costs mentioned above (the break fee, or your share of the rent until a new occupant is found), be aware that the owner can take the unpaid amount out of your bond.

Who can I go to for help and advice on breaking a lease?

If you’re unsure of your options when it comes to breaking a lease, speak to your property manager.

Chances are they’ll have dealt with many similar situations before, so don’t be worried or embarrassed about discussing your problem. They’ll be able to explain your options to you and guide you through the process step-by-step.

We all need friends to support us during tough times – that’s why Leah Jay could very well be your bestie during a break-up!


If you’re breaking a lease and need a new place to live, why not take a look through our available rentals?



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