I've been renting an apartment in Melbourne and the tenancy agreement is due to end in August. However I need to move out now so want to break the lease early, does anyone know if a) this is possible and b) how much it would cost to do this?
It is possible but you may be liable to pay certain costs such as readvertising fees and rent until new tenants move in. I would recommend speaking to the Tenants Union of Victoria (http://www.tuv.org.au/) who can advise you of your rights and what you do and don't have to pay.
Just be careful your landlord/agent doesn't try to sting you for extra costs that you don't actually have to pay, and make sure that they are readvertising the property. You will probably have to pay for readvertising fees but only pay when you are given an invoice. And you will also have to pay rent until someone else moves in - which is why you must make sure that the landlord/agent is readvertsing the property. Hope that helps
@SimonSays how did you go with breaking your lease in the end? I'm in the same situation whereby I need to break my rental agreement as I've been offered a job in Sydney. How do I begin the process with my estate agent here in Melbourne?
You need to start by writing a letter to your agent giving them notice that you want to vacate, reasons why, when you will be leaving etc. Then take it from there, I followed up my letter with a phone call to my agent. They then put the property back on the market and luckily it was rented again really quickly so I didn;t have to pay any fees.
I'm going travelling for 3 months and have a friend who wants to move in to my apartment and pay the rent while I'm gone. Do I need to notify my agent of this?
Technically yes you do - your friend will need to fill out a form as you can't sublet a room without the landlords permission. Se more information here: http://www.consumer.vic.gov.au/housing-and-accommodation/renting/beginning-a-lease-or-residency/sharing-a-rental-property-or-room/sharing-in-a-tenancy-agreement