The 2021 guide to leaving a rental property

Leaving a rental property isn’t always simple. Organising furniture movers, disconnecting utilities, cleaning, and getting a bond back are just a few of the things you’ll probably need to organise.

If you’re ending a lease midway through the rental agreement, there might be extra costs. Rental laws differ slightly in each state and territory.

With all that to consider, you wouldn’t be blamed for feeling a little stressed. But keeping a few key things in mind can help make the process easier.

Giving notice to your landlord

When it’s time to bid farewell to your current accommodation, you’ll need to let your real estate agent know ahead of time. There may be different notice periods depending on the state based legislation that applies, and also what your lease terms state.

If you decide to end your lease early and without reason, you might be charged for rental losses and readvertising fees.

However, there may be some limited circumstances for you to terminate your lease early and you should seek your own advice on this. For example, in New South Wales (NSW) if a tenant is in domestic violence situation they may be able to end their lease, potentially without penalty. For more information check out the Ending a tenancy page of NSW Fair Trading. Or check the rental laws in your state.

Make sure to have a read of your rental contract and speak to your real estate agent or a lawyer if you need clarification on anything. If you’re in New South Wales and feel your agent or landlord isn’t complying with rental laws, a good first step is to seek advice from the Tenants’ Union.

Set up insurance

If you have Contents Insurance — sometimes called Renters’ Insurance — then you may want to update your policy to your new address. It’s best to do this in advance to ensure you’re covered at your new place from day one.

Check your sum insured

Say you’re moving to a house with an extra bedroom, so you’ve purchased another bed, bedside table, and spare linen. Or maybe you work from home these days, so you’ve added a desk, a computer monitor, an ergonomic chair, and of course a desk plant, to your new place. Or maybe you’ve just decided to make your new house a home, and splashed out on a few rugs, some artwork for the walls, and a decorative vase or two. This may make you think about your sum insured and whether it should be updated accordingly.

The GIO Contents Insurance Calculator can be handy in helping you work out how much you may want to insure your belongings for.

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Understanding your responsibilities

You’ve got the keys to your next place, your stuff is on the movers’ truck, and you’ve googled the best cafes in your new area. But, it’s not as easy as just pulling the door shut behind when moving out of a rental property. There are a few things you might want to tick off first.

Clean your rental property

Make sure the property is clean. If you can afford it, hire an end of lease cleaner if you need help. You might be charged a cleaning fee if things aren’t up to scratch.

Check the outgoing condition report

The agent will complete an exit condition report at the end of your lease, noting any changes to the property’s original condition. The costs of repairs might be deducted from your bond. So, it’s important you check the report before signing.

Submit your bond return

If you and your agent disagree on the amount of bond to be returned to you, you can still make a claim for your bond to Fair Trading, without your agent’s signature. If the agent does not dispute the claim, Fair Trading will pay the claim. Otherwise, the agent can apply to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) and the tribunal will decide how the bond is paid out.

If you and the agent agree on the condition report and any deductions to be made from your bond, you can apply for your bond return at Rental Bonds Online (NSW).

Again, make sure to check out the rules regarding bond returns in your own state if you’re unaware, or for any recent changes in the process.

Moving house

Most of us have a lot more stuff than we realise. Even the best minimalists have a bit of heavy furniture and a few white goods! And unless you have access to a van or ute, furniture movers might be necessary.

You want to leave enough time for the furniture movers to do their thing. Plus, once all the stuff is out, you’ll need time to do some deep cleaning, and maybe even weeding and mowing if you have a garden.

If you can, organise your move out date to be a couple of days after your new move in date. That way you’ll have plenty of time to get organised.

Is my stuff covered when it’s being moved?

If you have contents cover, and you're permanently moving to a new address in Australia, GIO Contents Insurance covers your contents while they're being moved for loss or damage during the period of insurance caused by:

  • Fire (including bushfire)
  • Flood
  • Collision
  • Overturning, accident or theft of the vehicle carrying them.

Have a read of the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) for the limits and exclusions that apply and for full details on GIO Home and Contents Insurance.

Compare Home and Contents Insurance

Disconnect your utilities

To disconnect your power, it’s best to give your provider about a week’s notice. You might be charged a fee if you’re ending your plan earlier than the agreed contract. But check your plan or give your provider a call to find out about any disconnection fees.

Generally, an electricity and/or gas provider can connect your new place with power in three days, so make sure to give them a call ahead of your move. If you’re keeping the same provider and just updating your address, this may only take a day.

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Insurance issued by AAI Limited ABN 48 005 297 807 trading as GIO. Consider the Product Disclosure Statement before buying this insurance. This advice has been prepared without taking into account your particular objectives, financial situations or needs, so you should consider whether it is appropriate for you before acting on it.