One of our regional offices recently supported a tenant who had vacated their property two months early due to the real estate agent increasing the rent. Originally the agent sought ‘break lease’ costs (one week’s rent plus GST, advertising fees, rent until new tenants entered the property), cleaning fees, repairs and the cost of painting the walls. This all added up to the bond plus another $800. During conciliation, the agent dropped their claim for painting, claiming the bond in full, and leaving the matter to proceed to the Tribunal for decision.
During our support, we informed the tenant of the potential for the lessor to claim reasonable costs for the early ending of the lease, whilst also explaining that they had maintained a long tenancy, only ending the last fixed term lease two months early. Advice was also provided about the tenant’s obligation when vacating the property, to hand it back in the same condition as at the start of the tenancy, fair wear and tear excepted. We strongly emphasised how evidence supporting their entry and exit reports is very valuable in these instances.
At the Tribunal the tenant acknowledged their responsibilities, agreeing to pay some (but not all) the cleaning costs. However, they disputed other claims, asserting the state of the property was old and the repairs were the maintenance responsibility of the lessor. After the Tribunal adjudicator considered all the evidence, they agreed with the tenant who received most of their bond back. It was a welcome relief, given the original claim would have left them in debt.