Breaking a fixed term tenancy?
(updated on Thursday, June 30th 2011)
Our Experts Answer:
Fixed-term tenancy agreements can be difficult to be released from as they cannot be terminated by notice. As you mentioned a fixed-term can only be ended early by mutual agreement between the landlord or tenant, or by the Tenancy Tribunal in certain circumstances, e.g. where there has been an unforeseen change in one party’s circumstances that will cause financial hardship that outweighs the financial hardship of the other party – the Tenancy Tribunal can also award compensation to the other party in this situation.
Whether your reasons are considered sufficient by the Tenancy Tribunal to terminate the fixed-term will depend on whether the change in your situation is considered unforeseeable, and whether the hardship you will incur will be more than that of the landlord.
If you are unable to reach an agreement with your landlord, you could apply to the Tenancy Tribunal to determine whether your fixed-term tenancy is able to be ended early. Where both parties agree to end the term early, the tenant(s) can still be responsible for rent until a new tenant is found, or the expiry of the fixed-term (whichever is earlier).
To discuss your situation further, or for further information about fixed term tenancies, you can visit the Department of Building and Housing website (www.dbh.govt.nz) or call 0800 TENANCY (0800 836 262).
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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