Agreeing to break a fixed-term tenancy

Question from Bob updated on 1st November 2010:

We were asked by our landlord to vacate a few weeks before the end of a 12 month tenancy because he wanted to move back in. We contacted our property manager (PM) who told us we could move out at at time during the final month so long as we kept him informed. We notified the PM of the date we were leaving and heard nothing until the day we were moving out when the PM told us we had to pay the rent until the end of the tenancy, but he said he'd let us off if we paid him his lost commission. We did this but now he wants more compensation for the landlord. We had no reason to move early but did it because we were asked. Now we're being threatened with court. Help!

Our expert Jeff Montgomery responded:

Fixed term tenancies cannot be terminated by notice. A fixed term tenancy can only be ended early by mutual agreement between the landlord and tenant, or by the Tenancy Tribunal in certain circumstances. Where both parties agree to terminate a fixed term early, the details of that agreement should be recorded in writing, preferably on the tenancy agreement.

If you had an agreement with your landlord (or property manager if they are the landlord) to terminate the fixed term early, you may wish to remind them of the conditions agreed to as part of that agreement. If you and your landlord cannot reach an agreement over what was discussed and agreed to in order to terminate your fixed term tenancy, either party can apply to the Tenancy Tribunal to have the matter resolved.  

The Department of Building and Housing provides information and guidance on building law and compliance, services including weathertight homes, and advice for tenants and landlords.

 

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