Fixed-term & periodic tenancies

There are two types of tenancy agreements. The first is a ‘fixed-term’ agreement, which runs for a set period of time (usually 6 or 12 months).

The second type runs from week to week or from month to month and is called a ‘periodic’ agreement.

A fixed-term agreement can become a periodic agreement. For example, you could sign a 12-month agreement with your landlord but remain in the premises beyond 12 months. Unless a new agreement is signed, the tenancy automatically becomes periodic.

The same rights and responsibilities apply, except that different rules apply when it comes to ending your tenancy (see ‘Ending a tenancy’).

As a rule, it is harder for your landlord to evict you if you have a fi xed-term agreement. However, it can be costly if you wish to move out before the end of the fixed term (see ‘Breaking your lease’).

Entering into a fixed-term agreement

  • tip Do not sign a fixed-term agreement that allows for rent increases during the fixed term. (See ‘Rent increases’ for more information.)

A landlord (or their agent) must give you a copy of the agreement and any other documents that form part of the lease (eg owners’ corporation rules) before you are asked to sign.

The lease must be in the standard form. If necessary, seek advice from the Tenants Union before you sign, especially if there are ‘additional terms’ attached.

Once signed, your landlord or agent must give you a copy of the agreement and any other relevant documents within 14 days. Keep your signed copy of the agreement and any other relevant documents in a safe place.

  • tip Do a thorough inspection and make sure you are happy with the property before you pay your landlord any rent or bond money.

Other documents & information

At the beginning of a tenancy, your landlord must give you:

  • Renting a Home: a guide for tenants (red booklet from Consumer Affairs Victoria)
  • 2 copies of a Condition Report (if you have paid a bond), completed and signed by your landlord or agent
  • the landlord or agent’s full name, address and telephone and fax numbers
  • a statement setting out the agent’s power to authorise urgent repairs (if your landlord has an agent), the maximum amount of urgent repairs they can authorise, and the agent’s telephone or fax number for urgent repairsIt is an offence for your landlord or agent not to provide you with the above information. (See ‘Complaints about landlords & real estate agents’.)

Ending a fixed-term tenancy

To end a fixed-term tenancy you can:

  • serve an immediate Notice of Intention to Vacate
  • let your tenancy run its course
  • break your lease
  • give your landlord a 14-day Notice of Intention to Vacate if they have failed to comply with a Tribunal order
  • give your landlord a 14-day Notice of Intention to Vacate if they have breached the same duty on 2 previous occasions and each time you gave your landlord a Breach of Duty Notice
  • apply to the Tribunal to end the tenancy on the grounds of hardship
  • ‘assign’ your lease to another tenant

The following sections briefly explain each of these options, along with their advantages and disadvantages.

Serving an immediate Notice of Intention to Vacate

If the property is unfi t for human habitation or is unsafe, you can serve your landlord with an Immediate Notice of Intention to Vacate.

If the property is uninhabitable before you move in, you can serve your landlord with a Notice of Termination.

If your landlord disputes your claim that the premises are unfit for human habitation, contact the Tenants Union for advice.

Letting your tenancy run its course

You can end your fixed-term tenancy by letting it run its course and moving out on the last day of the fixed term.

This is the easiest and cheapest way to end your fixed-term tenancy. In most cases, you still need to give your landlord 28 days’ written notice if you plan to end your tenancy on the day that your fixed-term agreement ends.