Termination of a lease or occupancy agreement

In certain circumstances, you can apply to terminate a lease or occupancy agreement under the Residential Tenancies Act 1997.

ACAT may make orders to:

  • terminate the lease or occupancy agreement
  • require the tenant or occupant to vacate
  • make a payment (for tenancies)
  • dismiss the application.

Terminating a lease

Both a lessor and a tenant can apply to ACAT to end a residential tenancy agreement (lease). A lessor may also ask for vacant possession of the premises (this means the tenant is required to move out). When a lessor asks for an order ending the lease and requiring the tenant to move out, ACAT will refer to this as a termination and possession order.

Termination applications can be made for a range of reasons, including:

  • unpaid rent
  • hardship
  • failure to comply with a payment order
  • a breach of the lease.

Whether you are a lessor or tenant, you need to have reliable grounds to terminate the tenancy. Check your residential tenancy agreement and the Residential Tenancies Act 1997.

Before you come to ACAT, you will also need to check whether and what notices you need to serve (for example, notices to remedy or vacate). Refer to the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 and the Residential Tenancies Regulation 1998.

Terminating an occupancy agreement

A grantor must ensure an occupancy agreement states the circumstances in which an agreement can be terminated and the reasonable period of notice that must be given before it is terminated. An occupancy agreement may only allow a party to terminate the agreement under reasonable circumstances.

A party can only terminate an agreement in one of these situations:

  • all the parties agree
  • the agreement allows the party to do so and the party has given notice in accordance with the agreement
  • the other party has breached the occupancy principle or the agreement and the breach justifies the termination of the agreement.

ACAT can make orders to end an occupancy agreement and grant vacant possession of the premises to the grantor (this means the occupancy will come to an end and the occupants will be required to move out).

How to apply

To apply:

  • fill in the application for resolution of a tenancy dispute form [PDF 550KB] in full
  • attach any relevant documents (for example, the residential tenancy or occupancy agreement, notice to remedy and notice to vacate (if applicable), rent or occupancy fee ledger, and any condition reports)
  • lodge your form
  • tell us the times and dates you are not available to attend ACAT, for example, if you are overseas or having a medical procedure
  • pay the fee, unless you have an exemption, waiver or deferral.

Urgent applications

If your application is urgent, you need to lodge an application for interim or other orders form [PDF 56KB] at the same time as your other form.

What to expect after an application is made

The case will be scheduled for a short hearing, which is usually heard on a Wednesday or Thursday.

A notice will be sent to all the parties stating the date, time and location to attend ACAT. It will also tell you when to provide your documents, and will include a copy of the application.

A decision about the case is usually made at the end of the hearing. In some cases, the ACAT Member will reserve the decision, and give it later. A copy of the orders will be sent to the parties.

More information

Find out about:

Glossary and terms

Glossary and terms

ACT Civil and Administrative TribunalA tribunal established under the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 2008. It may also be referred to as ACAT or Tribunal.

Adjourn (or adjournment)To suspend or postpone a preliminary conference, mediation or hearing and reschedule it for a future date.

Administrative reviewACAT has jurisdiction to review some administrative decisions made by the ACT Government. Find out about Review of ACT Government decisions.

Alternative dispute resolution (ADR)Also known as dispute resolution. This is a way of resolving disputes without a formal hearing. It may involve a preliminary conference or mediation. ADR is used to help parties resolve cases by agreement.

AnorMeans ‘and another’. This term is generally used to name parties to proceedings when there is more than one applicant or respondent.

Appeal TribunalA tribunal constituted under section 81 of the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal 2008 to review a decision of the tribunal (not all ACAT decisions are appealable at ACAT – you may need to go to the Supreme Court).

AppellantThe individual or company that appeals an ACAT decision.

ApplicantThe individual or company that brings a case to ACAT, usually by making an application.

Authorising lawsA law that says an application (including referrals) may be made to ACAT. An authorising law may also set out the powers ACAT has in a case. Also see ‘jurisdiction’.

Calling a witnessA party or their representative will ‘call a witness’ at an ACAT hearing when they ask a witness to give evidence.

CaseAlso known as a matter, dispute, application or referral. Cases come to ACAT when ACAT has jurisdiction (power) to make a decision.

Cross-examinationThe process of asking a witness questions to test or check the evidence that the witness has given to ACAT.

Defined benefitsare the following benefits (see section 33 of the MAI Act):

  1. income replacement benefits;
  2. treatment and care benefits;
  3. quality of life benefits;
  4. death benefits;
  5. funeral benefits.

Deliver a decisionAlso ‘handing down a decision’. This is giving a decision about an ACAT case. It may be done verbally or in writing (or both).

DirectionsInstructions that set out what each party must do (and when), often to prepare a case for hearing.

Directions hearingA short hearing where an ACAT Member or Registrar decides how to manage a case and what needs to be done before a hearing. Find out about directions hearings.

Ex parte orderAn order made by ACAT where one or more parties were not present.

Expert reportA written report from an expert that may be used as evidence.

Expert witnessA person with specialised knowledge based on their training, study or experience. An expert can give evidence at a hearing. Find out more about witness statements.

Final directions hearingSometimes ACAT will hold a final directions hearing prior to the final hearing of an application. The purpose is to make sure the case is ready to go to a hearing and give the parties a chance to ask questions about the hearing process.

GuardianA guardian is a person ACAT appoints to make personal decisions, about health, welfare and where a person lives, for a person who has impaired decision-making ability (the ‘protected person’).

Handed upGiving documents to an ACAT Member or Registrar in a hearing.

In chambersWhen ACAT considers something without holding a hearing.

Joined party (joined/joinder)A party who was not originally a party to the dispute but has later been added to the case.

JurisdictionACAT’s authority (power) to deal with, hear and decide applications (cases).

LeaveIf someone asks for leave, they are usually asking for permission to do something.

List (or listing)A schedule (or list) of cases to be heard at ACAT each day.

Listing noticeA letter or written document from ACAT that sets out when a conference, mediation or hearing is scheduled at ACAT.

ManagerA manager is a person ACAT appoints to make decisions, about property and money, for a person with impaired decision-making ability (the ‘protected person’).

MAI ActMotor Accident Injuries Act 2019 (ACT).

MediationA private meeting where parties discuss ways to resolve their dispute, with the help of an impartial mediator (who is also an ACAT Member or Registrar). It is held under section 35 of the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 2008.

Non-publication and/or non-disclosure orderAlso called a ‘suppression order’. It is an order that requires certain information not to be published or disclosed. It is made under section 39 of the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 2008. Find out about public hearings and confidentiality.

Notice to partiesA letter sent to the parties in a case that sets out the time, date and location for an ACAT conference, mediation or hearing.

Opening statementUsually means a statement made at the beginning of a hearing to outline the key points in the case. Sometimes parties are asked to give an opening statement at a mediation or preliminary conference.

Originating applicationAn application that starts an ACAT case.

Party or partiesAn individual or company directly involved in an ACAT case, for example an applicant or respondent. Find out how to identify and name parties.

Preliminary conferenceA private meeting where parties discuss ways to resolve their dispute with the help of an ACAT Member or Registrar. See section 33 of the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 2008. ACAT has different types of preliminary conferences.

Protected personA person who has impaired decision-making ability and about whom an application to ACAT may be made seeking orders under the Guardianship and Management of Property Act 1991 or the Power of Attorney Act 2006.

RegistryThe administrative section of ACAT that accepts documents lodged by parties, handles enquiries and provides support for case management.

Relevant insurerfor a motor accident, means the insurer under the Motor Accident Injuries Act 2019 (see section 34) of the motor vehicle considered to be at fault for the motor accident in the ACT.

RepresentativeA person who represents or advocates for an individual or company at a conference, mediation or hearing at ACAT. For example, a legal practitioner or an attorney appointed under a general power of attorney.

Reserved decisionWhen an ACAT Member or Registrar reserves a decision (at the end of a hearing), this means they will give their decision later, either verbally or in writing (sometimes both).

RespondentThe party (or parties) against whom orders or relief is sought.

Serve/serviceA person who can give evidence at a hearing. Find out about witness statements.

Short service orderAn order that authorises a shorter time for service (than the time otherwise required).

Significant occupational impact (SOI)Significant impact on an injured person’s ability to undertake employment.

Statement of reasonsA document that explains why ACAT made an order in a case. It sets out the law relied on by an ACAT Member or Registrar and explains how the law was applied to the facts of the case. You can request a written statement of reasons within 14 days after an order is made. Find out about statement of reasons.

StayAn order for a particular action (or decision) to be put on hold or suspended for a period of time.

SubmissionA document that sets out your side of a case or dispute and the relevant law. It is presented to ACAT either in writing, verbally or both. Find out about submissions.

SubpoenaRequires a person to appear at ACAT to give evidence or provide documents (or both). Find out about subpoenas.

Substituted service orderAn order that says how a party is to be served with an application or other documents related to the proceedings. In a civil dispute or a rental dispute, an applicant will need to consider asking for a substituted service order if they do not have a physical address for the respondent. Find out about lodging and serving documents.

WitnessA person who can give evidence at a hearing. Find out about witness statements.