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Breaking a lease due to Covid 19

Hi,
We are relocating from SA back to Vic.
We moved to SA to open a business only a few month ago. Signed a Residential lease start of Jan2020. However due to the Covid 19, I lost my job in SA and my wife looks after our 9mth old.
We own a cafe in Vic which is battling for survival.
When we asked our landlord (who looks after the property himself) if we could come to an agreement, after explaining we might have to go back to Vic to try to save our cafe. We probably will not be able to pay the rent in SA if we don’t come to an agreement. He simply told us. Yep it’s pretty clear just go. Now, we are packing and have paid until the 28days noticed date. He is pushing to have people see the place before we leave.
With current Covid 19 restrictions and a baby. I do not feel safe having people walking through the house, especially with boxes everywhere. He has shown absolutely no sympathy for our situation.
What are my rights?

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Hi @Richardm1 and welcome to the community,

It sounds as if your landlord is one of the best in not holding you to your lease.

Your basic rights in SA as a tenant appears to be governed by the Attorney General’s Department, their page being here and when a property is being sold, here.

On the tenants side there is this information from the SA Tenants Advisory and Information Services. They have an 800 number and might be the most authoritative source to seek information.

You might consider how far you wish to protect your own rights as your landlord may be encouraged to protect his own, at your substantial cost.

Have you considered ‘rules of engagement’ whereby the trend for a video showing is arranged? Has this been proposed by either you or the landlord? Bona fide applicants could then be asked or required to use sanitiser on the way in, and masks or what makes you most comfortable.

It is a difficult situation many are facing today and many landlords are playing hardball not helping their tenants (and themselves) to move on with no regard for the tenant’s situation at all.

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I think that he has been very sympathetic as he could have held you to the lease and not allowed you to break it as easily as he has.

In relation to people entering the house, I personally would accept this as a compromise for your landlord being so understanding to your circumstances. You also have to realise that if the house isn’t rented after you leave, the landlord will be missing out on potential rental for the house (this may have been something you would have been responsible for, that is paying rent until such time the house is leased again).

Maybe ask your landlord if he could ensure that any person carrying out an inspection don’t touch your personal possessions (something that should happen anyway) and see if he get also get them to wash their hands before entering the house. Also ask if anyone with a cough, fever etc not to enter your house. I am sure your landlord will be obliging to these simple and standard control measures.

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To add to the previous reply above, here is some information from Consumer and Business Services regarding temporary changes to tenants rights following the passage of legislation last week:
https://www.cbs.sa.gov.au/rental-advice-due-covid-19

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