Travelling for the purpose of moving house is a 'reasonable excuse' that will not breach the NSW Public Health Orders. You can also leave your current house to inspect other houses you are thinking of moving into.
Also, removalists are covered as they are people who cannot work from home. However, it appears that a gathering of non-professionals such as friends or family above current restrictions to assist you to move may be in breach of the public health orders.
Restrictions on movement and gatherings are being changed all the time. You can read the most current NSW Public Health Orders here.
Ending your tenancy outside of a fixed term agreement
If you are in a periodic agreement (i.e. an ongoing agreement) you can end your tenancy by giving a minimum of 21 days notice, and leaving by the vacate date in your notice.
It is worth getting in touch with the landlord or agent to explain your current financial or health circumstances. You might be able to negotiate and agree on a shorter period of notice. If you do come to an agreement with the landlord make sure you have this confirmed in writing. The landlord is not required to consider this request, but it’s definitely worth a try. See also Factsheet 9: You want to leave.
Breaking a fixed term lease early
If you are in a fixed-term agreement (i.e. your fixed-term tenancy agreement has not yet expired) you may have to pay a break fee or compensation to the landlord for breaking the tenancy agreement early. As mentioned above, it is worth writing to the landlord to let them know why you are wanting to break the lease early and asking them to consider waiving any applicable break free or compensation claim. See also Factsheet 16: Ending a fixed-term tenancy early.
If you have somewhere else you can stay, weigh up waiting for a response from the landlord or a possible application to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) against any notice and penalties that might apply. Make sure to ask the landlord to respond within a reasonably short time frame as waiting for weeks to get a response or determination could end up costing you just the same as paying the break fee.
If you have an older agreement, you might find it useful to refer the agent or landlord to the newly introduced structure for break fees for agreements entered into on or after 23 March 2020. At the moment the new structure does not apply for agreements entered into before 23 March, but the agent or landlord may consider this a good compromise.
2 week cap on break fee for 'impacted tenants' where landlord won't engage in rent reduction negotiations
Where rent reduction negotiations have failed impacted tenants are able to end their fixed term tenancy early with reduced penalty. You are able to apply to Tribunal to end your tenancy early where:
- you have requested the landlord engage in formal rent reduction negotiations and they fail to respond within 7 days, or refuse to participate or after agreeing subsequently fail to participate in a formal rent reduction negotiation process, or
- the landlord doesn't respond to a notice from Fair Trading to engage in a formal rent reduction negotiation process within 7 days, or fails to or stops participating in the formal process, or
- 'good faith' negotiations fail because the rent reduction that the landlord can agree to are not affordable for you, or because of financial hardship you are likely to face due to arrears you have already accumulated and/or any further arrears you are likely to accrue if the tenancy is not ended
In this situation you can only be required to pay up to a maximum of 2 weeks rent in compensation. The Tribunal also has discretion not to impose any fee at all.