Factsheet 10: Landlord ends agreement
As a tenant you have rights under the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 and Residential Tenancies Regulation 2010. This factsheet explains the law in NSW about what a landlord must do to end a tenancy agreement.
In most cases, the landlord must give you a termination notice. The agreement ends once you give vacant possession of the premises to the landlord (you move out and return the keys).
If you do not vacate by the day specified in the notice, the landlord can then apply to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) for a termination order.
A termination order ends the tenancy and specifies the day on which you have to give vacant possession.
In some cases, the landlord can apply for termination order without giving you notice. (See ‘Application to NCAT without notice’ below.)
A social housing provider can end a tenancy agreement on certain grounds other than those outlined below. Contact your local Tenants Advice and Advocacy Service for details.
The termination notice must be in writing, signed by the landlord/agent and set out:
The landlord/agent must properly send or deliver the notice to you: in person, by post, by fax, or by hand in an addressed envelope to a mailbox at your residential or business address.
If there is a mistake in the notice or it is not properly sent/delivered, you can argue in NCAT that it is invalid and the landlord’s application should be dismissed. However, NCAT may overlook such mistakes.
This depends on the type of tenancy agreement and the ground for termination (if any) – see table below.
A fixed-term agreement is for a specified period (e.g. 6 months). A periodic agreement is one where the fixed-term has expired or no fixed term is specified.
If a termination notice is posted to you, the landlord/agent must allow an extra 4 working days for delivery.
Minimum notice periods
|Ground||Fixed-term agreement||Periodic agreement|
|No ground||30 days (see below)||90 days|
|Sale of premises||not applicable||30 days|
|Breach of agreement||14 days||14 days|
The landlord/agent can give immediate notice if the premises are destroyed, become wholly or partly unusable (other than due to a breach of the tenancy agreement), they become no longer lawfully usable as a residence, or they are acquired by any authority by compulsory process.
The landlord cannot end your agreement without grounds before the last day of the fixed term. If the agreement does not terminate at the end of the term, it automatically becomes a periodic agreement.
If the landlord/agent wants to end your agreement at the end of the fixed term, they must give you at least 30 days notice that includes the last day of the term.
If the landlord applies for a termination order, NCAT must terminate the agreement.
The landlord/agent can end the agreement by giving 90 days notice. If the landlord applies for a termination order, NCAT must terminate the agreement.
If the landlord applies for a termination order when:
NCAT can consider the circumstances of the case and decide whether or not to make the order.
If NCAT decides to make the order, it must give you at least 90 days to vacate the premises.
If you are in breach of your tenancy agreement – you fail to meet your obligations under the agreement – the landlord/agent can give you a 14-day termination notice.
If you do not obey the notice, the landlord can apply for a termination order. If they do, you should attend the NCAT hearing. If you can show that you have fixed the breach or taken steps to fix it, NCAT may decide not to end the tenancy.
If you are in breach of agreement solely for rent arrears, the landlord can give you a non-payment termination notice. The rent must remain unpaid for not less than 14 days before they can give you this notice.
If you get such a notice, you are not required to vacate if you pay all the rent owing or enter into, and fully comply with, an agreed repayment plan. See Factsheet 05: Rent arrears for more information.
Your agreement cannot be terminated because the premises are being sold.
If the landlord has entered into a contract for sale of the premises that requires them to provide vacant possession of the premises, they can give you a 30-day termination notice.
The landlord can apply to NCAT for a termination order (under a fixed-term or periodic agreement) without giving you a termination notice on one or more of the following grounds:
NCAT may make a termination order and may order you to give immediate possession of the premises to the landlord.
The landlord can apply for a termination order without notice on the ground that they would suffer undue hardship if the tenancy continued. NCAT may make a termination order and may also order the landlord to compensate you for loss of the tenancy.
The landlord/agent must follow one of the processes outlined above before you can be evicted. Locking you out without an NCAT or court order is illegal – the landlord/agent can be fined up to $22,000 and ordered to compensate you.
You my leave at any time before the termination date, however, you will be liable for the rent until the end of the fixed term.
At any time before the termination date, you can give vacant possession and stop paying rent.
The landlord may withdraw a termination notice at any time with your consent. However, they may give a further notice on another ground.
If the landlord acts to end the tenancy in response to you enforcing your legal rights, NCAT may find this to be retaliatory eviction. It may declare a termination notice to have no effect and/or refuse to make a termination order.
NCAT will consider the relative hardship to you and the landlord and specify the day on which you must give vacant possession.
If you do not vacate by the specified day, the landlord/agent can get a warrant for possession from NCAT. With this warrant, a sheriff's officer can remove you from the premises – with police help if needed.
Have you found the information on this website useful? The Tenants Advice and Advocacy Services (TAAS) would love to hear from you.
Leave a comment on the Tenants’ Union’s Facebook page.
Tweet about this website using the hashtag #my3cents.
Read and comment on stories about the value of TAAS on the Tenants’ Union’s blog The Brown Couch.
Send us an email with your story to tenants[at]tenantsunion.org.au.
The information in this factsheet:
• is intended as guide to the law and should not be used as a substitute for legal advice
• applies to people who live in, or are affected by, the law as it applies in New South Wales, Australia.
© Tenants' Union of NSW