Sallyh

Ending a fixed term lease... advice please

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    Hi

     

    We are not going to renew our lease this time. Our lease expires on 15th Feb (by my calculations it should be the 14th as it is the second term but I am just arguing over semantics, it doesn't matter because Elders sent us a lease renewal saying it was going to end on 15th Feb, even though the new term started on 15th Feb last year. ;) So we strictly speaking have a year and a day. Not sure that matters to anyone except anyone as pedantic as me. :) ).

     

    Last year Elders gave us over a month's notice of the new rent. They were very organised and sent us a letter at beginning of Jan saying what the new rent would be, from 15 Feb.

     

    Since then - Elders sold part of their rental book and our house was one of them that went over to a new agent. He hasn't been as organised. He hasn't as yet missed any deadlines (eg inspections all been diarised on time) but he has been terrible at following up repairs when people haven't turned up to do them, etc).

     

    So we have heard nothing from him about the lease renewal.

     

    I don't know how much notice he has to give for lease renewal. I suppose I always assume in these things you have to give / receive a month's notice... but that would be today, or tomorrow (really pushing it there). So far nothing and I am assuming the landlord is not renewing.

     

    We had an amazing relationship with Elders, and the landlord is great too. All inspections have been extremely complimentary. Last inspection the agent's behaviour was a bit odd. Still complimentary, told me I had a very "orderly household" and I couldn't have staged a better time for him to come with regard to children all doing schoolwork in different corners of the house, quiet, tidy, etc!!! He did say "you'll have to move to a bigger house. I said we were fine here for a good while yet.

     

    Some major structural repairs I guess were done on the house this year, and I am wondering if the landlord wants to sell.

     

    Question is - we are going somewhere else anyway (DH going to study and we have college accommodation lined up for Feb). We don't want to renew the lease. Looks very suspiciously like for whatever reason the landlord isn't renewing either.

     

    Do we have to give notice that we are moving out at the end of the lease? Or can I just allow the fixed term to expire and in a week or so mention something verbally to the agent about tying up the loose ends, arranging inspection etc. Obviously I don't want to get caught for another month. Equally Icould do without a string of inspections while we are packing up, so the later I mention it, the better from our point of view.

     

    I don't want to be caught holding over on the lease, and have to pay another month's rent. I can't find anything in the lease terms (or anything I have read about the relevant act, short of finding the legislation myself somehow) saying that anyone has to give notice in order to allow a fixed term lease to expire.

     

    Tried to ring OCBA yesterday but couldn't get through. If we give notice, it's got to be tomorrow at the latest by my reckoning, if a month's notice is to expire on the 15th Feb.

     

    IN order for the term to renew we would have to sign something. I just want to know whether I have to officially notify them of the lease coming to an end on 15th, or whether if the default do nothing position is that it would expiry.

     

    I have a legal background but not here and not in residential landlord and tenant. Any advice would be appreciated, thanks.

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    Guest Mrs Bon Jovi

    Just a quickie as I'm out and on my phone but yes you do have to give notice in writing otherwise the lease will carry on over to a periodical lease. I thonk (but don't quote me on it) that it is 21 days but it should say on your lease agreement somewhere.

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    No as far as I can see it doesn't say anything. Only has notice periods for breaking lease, landlord giving notice etc. I think that if the landlord does nothing then yes it turns into a periodical lease. Thanks for your thoughts, I am going to try to get through to OCBA and I will read it all again.

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    No the 21 days relates to a periodic tenancy.

     

    the information sheet regarding termination of fixed term (expiry) says this:

     

     

    Fixed term tenancy -

    Neither the landlord nor the tenant can terminate a fixed term agreement before the endof the tenancy, unless mutually agreed. At the end of a fixed term tenancy, if the tenanthas not vacated the premises, the landlord may lodge an application with the Tribunal foran order for possession of the premises.

    If a tenant wants to leave the premises and terminate the tenancy before the end of thefixed term, discuss it with the landlord and try to come to an arrangement. The landlordmay hold the tenant responsible for the costs associated with finding a new tenant,reletting the premises and any loss of rent. For further information, contact the Tenancies

    Branch for advice.

    I think the lease just naturally expires, and if the tenant doesn't leave,the landlord has to follow a process to get them out. You can mutually agree to end it earlier (breaking lease) and obviously that comes with its own issues. I do think that we can do nothing and the lease will expire but I am going to try to confirm that. The information is not clear. The WA information says specifically that, but nothing clear in relation to SA and I know that the laws in different states are not the same. I think if we were supposed to give notice, there would be a specific provision stating that, as there is for other things.

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    Checked it out. There's no obligation to give notice, the lease will naturally expire. obviously that leaves no-one with any certainty so it is good practice to give some sort of notice.

     

    Interesting isn't it, that in theory, the landlord could wait until really close to the end of the lease, before confirming that they are not going to renew? Wouldnt that leave you high and dry?????!!!!!

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    Guest Mrs Bon Jovi

    I guess it depends on the agents then. Ours specifically made reference to it when we went in to go over everything and sign the lease. She also stated that they would try to give us 2 weeks notice if they weren't renewing our lease but yes, they didn't in fact have to give any notice at all!!! We broke lease though with 5 months to go so didn't have to deal with any of that.

    Good luck with the move.

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    Like everything I guess the agents have their own stipulations but if they were saying 21 days before expiry of a fixed term lease, then they were making up their own rules and couldn't have held you over on it. I think best practice is to give some sort of decent notice. I will ring the agent in the next few days but as we aren't legally obliged to, I will do it at a point we are prepared to face viewings if they are going to choose to relet.

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    Sally - I wouldn't assume that the landlord doesn't want to renew the lease. When my property was managed by an agent I used to always have to check about the lease expiry and ask them to follow up. They don't necessarily do it off their own back and if the agent isn't proactive it could be the landlord has forgotten and may think that the agent is taking care of it. (Especially if you had a good agent before this one.) After all that is why landlords get agents. Most of the time thought I think those landlords don't always know what agents are doing to tenants.

     

    Also I am pretty sure that if you just want to leave you can but obviously will need to liaise with them about final inspections etc so that you get your bond back promptly. If you want to be on a periodic lease then you need to tell them but I think you only need to give them 3 weeks notice if you wish to vacate.

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    Thanks yes, it's 3 weeks' notice to end periodic lease if you have held over following the expiry of the fixed one.

     

    Have no intention (however I might fantasise about it - sick legal mind) of playing rental roulette (!!!) but I just wanted to make sure that I don't get fingers burned by not giving notice if we had to. I will ring the agent tomorrow and I am sure you are right. THe landlord is great, met him twice, and the previous rental agent (Dee at Elders Modbury) was the best agent I have ever come across. No nonsense, but it was easy to get her on board and we had a fantastic working relationship with her.

     

    Conscience dictates I will ring the agent tomorrow, and I guess if there's no deadline by which he has to contact us about renewal, he can be slack by a few weeks anyway so it's only right thing to do by the landlord that we give them time to fill the house. I was just suspicious because of a few comments the agent made about the last inspection and for some reason he brought a camera and took some photos. It was a perfectly fine inspection, always had good ones, commented on the house and said I had a very orderly household (praise indeed with 5 kids!) but he also mentioned that we would need a bigger house soon. Just put me on notice that was a funny way to talk at an inspection.

     

    The landlord's been stung for a few structural issues on the house in the past 2 years too, so I wouldn't be surprised if his investment from his point of view isn't looking too good -bay of biscay soil, it's all pretty bad round here and there have been some major fixes which is why we met him - he came round to survey and inspect it himself before the work was done. So my thoughts are that he might be selling.

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    You were right Kris... agent hadn't got around to it ( I did suspect that his diary system wasn't quite as on the ball as elders). Great chat this morning, he'll do opens in a few weeks, hopefully we won't be too disadvantaged, we are trying to get stuff packed early.

     

    Anyone interested in a great 4 bedroom house in Highbury? Brilliant neighbours, opposite a very good school and preschool... I can put you in touch with the agent if you are interested.

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