Moving is definitely one of the most stressful experiences many people will have.

There are so many things to do and remember – it can be completely overwhelming!

But it doesn’t have to be this hard!  Set up a list of tasks that need to be done when you end your tenancy and make sure everything is crossed off the list before you move. Easy!

Read on for information on the most important things to remember…

First up:

See our factsheet on “Ending a Tenancy and Breaking a Lease” which provides information on how you or your agent/landlord can end the lease.

No. 1 tip for ending a tenancy:

if you come to any agreement with the agent or landlord, or you give notice of your intention to end the tenancy make sure you put everything in writing!  If you have to call the agent or landlord, make notes about what was discussed and/or send a follow up email or letter to confirm what was agreed.

Dates

You can end a tenancy agreement and leave a property on a weekend, public holiday or over the Christmas/New Year break if that works for you. See our FAQ about ending a tenancy at those times for more information.

Access arrangements

Your tenancy agreement sets out rules regarding when and how often your landlord can access the property at the end of your tenancy.

If the landlord/agent wants to conduct viewings for people who might want to rent the property you must give reasonable access in the last 3 weeks of the tenancy and you must be given 24 hours notice.

If the landlord is selling then you must also provide reasonable access but only if you have been told in writing that the landlord plans to sell the property and you are given 24 hours notice.

What is reasonable access will depend on the circumstances, and the landlord/agent should make their best efforts to accommodate any commitments you have like work and travel.  In both cases the tenancy agreement does not specifically say you need to be given notice in writing but it is a good idea to insist on it.

You might want to come to an agreement with the landlord/agent about times and dates that are convenient to you. Put any agreement in writing, i.e. an email or a letter. If you are concerned about timing or frequency of access requested by your landlord or agent please contact the Tenants Advice Service.

Utilities

Ensure you disconnect all the utilities that are supplied in your name as soon as possible after you vacate the property. Take a photo of the electricity, gas and water meters (ensure the photos are date stamped) and keep for your records.

As most tenants do not have the water account in their name, the landlord is responsible to take a reading of the water meter no later than the day after the tenancy ends and should give you an opportunity to verify that reading. Your contribution to the next bill will then be worked out on a pro rata basis and you should be able to see a copy of the bill.

IF you do not have a separate water meter that measures the water you actually use (e.g. you live in a granny flat and share a water meter with the landlord) you should not be paying for water at all. See our FAQ for more information.

Finally, some people like to leave the electricity on in case they want to address any cleaning issues that the landlord or agent raise at the final inspection.

Cleaning and condition

As a tenant you are expected to return the property in substantially the same condition and level of cleanliness it was in at the beginning of the tenancy (as noted in the condition report), allowing for fair wear and tear (cl 64).

To ensure you do the best and most accurate job you should find your original condition report or ask for a copy and compare this against the condition of the property when you have done all your cleaning.  You do not have to clean or fix things that were not clean or not working at the beginning of your tenancy. However if you have damaged something, and it is not fair wear and tear you should repair it (see below for more info on fair wear and tear). Sometimes it can be a good idea to discuss repairs with the agent or landlord or ensure they are done to everyone’s satisfaction.

You do not have to fix things that wore out or broke as a result of “fair wear and tear”. This means you are not responsible for minor damage or deterioration caused by normal human use or natural forces/action. In some cases even major damage, if caused over a long period of time and through normal use of the property might be fair wear and tear.  For example if you lived in a property for 10 years and the carpet has deteriorated significantly in high traffic areas you may not be responsible for replacement.

Carpets are often the big issue at final inspections. For more information on whether or not you are required to have your carpet professionally cleaned see our FAQ.

Similar issues with carpet can arise when you have pets, and you may be asked to fumigate the house as well. It is likely that the answer to whether or not you have to have the carpets cleaned and the house fumigated will be in the FAQ on carpets above. If you are not sure call the Tenants Advice Service.

Finally, if you have made any alterations to the property, you will normally need to ensure you reverse any changes so that the property is returned in substantially the same condition as when you moved in. However you may wish to discuss this with the agent/landlord and come to an agreement in writing about whether this is necessary. You may consider requesting some reimbursement if you are going to leave your additions or alterations behind and they were costly to install originally.

Rent

If you are vacating during a periodic tenancy (commonly starts automatically at the end of your fixed term) then you are required to give 3 weeks notice in writing, and pay rent to the end of those three weeks. If you are leaving during a fixed term, commonly called “breaking lease” then you should see our FAQ on break lease issues here.

If the amount of rent you need to pay to the end of your notice period is not the normal weekly, fortnightly or monthly amount then you will need to figure out the number of days you need to pay rent for. We have a handy factsheet on how you can make these calculations here. To avoid any confusion you should let your agent or landlord know what amount you will be paying and how you calculated this. It is always better to pay the exact amount of rent required than to overpay and have to wait for the agent or landlord to refund the excess to you.

Direct debit

If you pay your rent by direct debt ensure that you cancel it at the appropriate time. If you have to pay rent on a pro rata basis (i.e. 10 days instead of your usual fortnightly amount) then write to the agent and advise them of the amount and state clearly that you only give authority for that amount to be withdrawn and that after that you cancel your authority for any further direct debits.

Keys

In most cases your tenancy will end on the day you hand back the keys and no longer have access to the property.  Generally you will return the keys on or before the final inspection. When you hand over the keys ensure you get a receipt, or a signed photocopy of the keys. If the landlord or agent will not accept the keys you can post them registered express post to the address for service listed on your lease. If you do this, ensure you let the agent or landlord know as soon as possible in writing. If you cannot post them, you can lock the keys in a safe place in the house, and again let the agent or landlord know as soon as possible.

Final inspection

Firstly, the tenancy agreement sets out when the final inspection should be.  In most cases your final inspection should be in the last month of the tenancy, ideally on the last day. However often agents and landlords will request that the final inspection be conducted a few days after you move out.  Of course it’s a good idea to be present at the final inspection and the agent is obliged to take all reasonable steps to ensure you  can attend, under the Agents Rules of Conduct (the Rules are part of the Agents Regulation 2003 (ACT) s 8.32).  If you cannot go along you can appoint a representative to be there on your behalf and you should request that the agent send you a copy of the condition report no later than the day after the final inspection was conducted.

Because things can change in those few days after you’ve moved; leaves can fall, dust can settle – it’s important that you take photos/video of the condition of the property on the day your tenancy ends and you hand back the keys.  You may also wish to complete your own condition report (available here) so you have a record of your opinion of the condition of the property.

Some agencies do a “pre-vacate inspection” in the weeks leading up to your tenancy ending. This can only be done if with 7 days notice, and in accordance with the general rules regarding access noted above. For example if you have already had the 4 allowed inspections that year, there cannot be any more unless you agree to them.

In some cases agents will say that they will do a final inspection with you and then conduct an additional final inspection with the landlord. While they can do this, they must rely on the original inspection conducted with you if they are going to request you do further cleaning or repairs. For more information see our FAQ on additional final inspections.

We recommend that you take your cleaning products, sponge, broom etc to the final inspection with you in case there are any last minute things to touch up.

Finally, you cannot be charged for the initial final inspection, or any fees for preparation of a condition report. If this happens, see our FAQ on extra fees for more information.

Bond

Getting your bond back is probably going to be your biggest concern when vacating a property. To ensure that everything goes smoothly read the above information on cleaning and final inspections. If you are able to attend the final inspection, take a copy of the bond refund form, available here along and ask the agent or landlord to sign it on the spot.  Make sure you include your forwarding address on the form.

IMPORTANT: NEVER SIGN A BLANK BOND REFUND FORM.

However many agents will not sign the bond refund form at the final inspection. There are a few things you can do in this situation

  • if you both agree about the contents of the condition report you can ask the agent to sign the condition report to confirm that is an agreed record of the condition of the property. You can then arrange a time to go into the agent’s office and sign the form.
  • if you don’t agree with the agent’s condition report then make sure you do your own (available here) and take photos.

If the agent will not sign the condition report or give you anything to confirm the condition of the property you will have to rely on your photos/videos arnd your own condition report.  Make sure you provide the agent with your forwarding address.

If you think there is going to be a dispute about the condition of the property and the return of your bond, see our factsheet on Bond here and our FAQ on defending bond claims here.

Break lease and bond return

If you have ended your fixed term tenancy early it is unlikely that the agent or landlord will agree to refund your bond before all outstanding issues such as compensation have been resolved. While the Tenants Advice Service believes you should get your bond back if there are no issues with the condition of the property this will often not be the case. For more information see our factsheet on ending a tenancy and breaking lease here or call the Tenants Advice Service

If you are in a co-tenancy (e.g. more than 1 person on lease e.g. sharehouse)

If you’re a co-tenant and you’re leaving a tenancy but others are staying you should:

  • Take photos of condition of all parts of property not just your room
  • Do a condition report (available here) – some agents will do this when one or more tenants moves out

Ensure you have arranged for your bond to be refunded to you by the incoming tenant or the remaining tenants – and then sign the bond transfer form, available here.

Checklist

  • Given or received valid notice in writing and there is no dispute
  • Confirm any arrangements for agent/landlord to access property in writing
  • Schedule final inspection
  • Disconnect all utilities connected in your name
  • Take photos of meters (date stamped)
  • Clean property as needed when compared to incoming condition report
  • Arrange for carpet cleaning if necessary
  • Take photos/videos of condition of property and do your own condition report
  • Remove any additions, alterations you have done to property
  • Calculate rent payable until end of tenancy and pay that amount
  • Cancel direct debit if necessary
  • Return keys and get a receipt or sign a photocopy
  • Print bond refund form and take to final inspection
  • Attend final inspection
  • Resolve any issues with condition of property
  • Sign bond refund form and lodge with Office of Rental Bonds (your or the agent can do this)
  • Give yourself a pat on the back for getting to the end of the list!

IMPORTANT NOTE:

Tenants’ Union ACT publishes this website as a free service to the public.

This website provides information about the law designed to help users understand their legal rights and obligations. However legal information is not the same as legal advice (the application of law to an individual's specific circumstances). Although we make all efforts to ensure our information is accurate and useful, we recommend you consult the Tenants Advice Service for advice specific to your circumstances. You are also free to consult an independent solicitor for a second opinion.

Please note that this website is NOT intended to be used as a substitute for specific legal advice or opinions and the transmission of this information is NOT intended to create a solicitor-client relationship between the Tenants’ Union ACT and members of the public.

Tenants’ Union ACT makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, currency, suitability, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. Please note that the information on this site is only relevant to renters in the ACT Please also note when the page was last updated, as the law may have changed.