Break-Lease – do I have to keep paying rent?

No. Landlords and real estate agents sometimes tell tenants that they have to keep on paying rent after the tenant has left the property until the landlord/agent has found a new tenant. This is NOT what the legislation provides.

Tenants CAN be ordered to pay compensation for the loss the landlord has suffered because the tenant ends the tenancy early. This compensation can include the amount of rent the landlord would have received if there is a gap between when the tenant moves out and a replacement tenant moves in.  However, a tenant only has to pay compensation if and when the Tribunal orders the tenant to pay it.  A tenant does not have to keep paying rent before the Tribunal makes a decision.

You are liable for paying rent up until the tenancy terminates.  When you give written notice of your intention to vacate and move out on the date you gave, the tenancy ends (clause 84(1) Standard Residential Tenancy Terms). You have to to pay rent up to and including the date you vacate. To calculate your rent up until your vacate date, see our FAQ on rent calculation here.  You might be told you have to keep paying rent, but in fact your liability for that has ended because you have terminated the agreement.  This is now a matter of whether you are liable for compensating the landlord for their rental loss.

It is important that you acknowledge you may be liable to compensate the landlord for the amount of lost rent when that amount is demonstrable.  It is then for the landlord or agent to apply to ACAT for an order for compensation in accordance with section 84.

When tenants stop paying rent, this gives the landlord the greatest incentive to find new tenants quickly. If you pay rent and then find out that the landlord/agent hasn’t mitigated their loss, you might not be able to get the money back.

Please note that the landlord/agent has a duty to mitigate (reduce or avoid) their losses (section 38 Residential Tenancies Act 1997). This means that they need to take reasonable steps to find a new tenant in a reasonable time frame or they may not be able to recover the entire amount of loss they claim.

For more detailed information, see our Tenancy Factsheet – Ending a Tenancy and Breaking a Lease.

For information on how to stopping your rent payments see our FAQ on rent payment options and direct debit here.

Reviewed 3/12/13



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