Can a landlord permit a tenant to find another tenant to replace them?

Sharon asks:
(updated on Tuesday, June 23rd 2009)

I entered into a 12 month agreement on the condition that A: the property would be taken off the market, and B: I had the right to withdrawal from the contract, providing another tenant was found. Our financial position changed for the worse and the property mgmt company advertised for new tenants (upon consultation with the owners 6 weeks ago). New tenants were found and now the property owner is saying he does not want new tenants, wants us to continue paying for the duration of the contract, and the house is going on the market (we have also been phoned by the real estate company) & the day before we are set to go. We feel very disadvantaged by this. Had we known of this, we would never have entered into another agreement. Where do we stand?

Our Experts Answer:

Where a landlord as permitted a tenant to find another tenant to replace them in the tenancy, the landlord may attach reasonable conditions. This may include refusing to allow the tenancy to be assigned in some circumstances. I recommend you remind your landlord of your original agreement, and talk to them about why they no longer want new tenants.

You may also wish to highlight that a condition of your agreement was that the property would be taken off the market, and discuss the possibility of this clause being amended to suit both parties. If the landlord continues to market the property, you could give them 10 working days’ notice to take the property off the market. You can download a template for the 10 working days’ notice from the Department of Building and Housing’s website (www.dbh.govt.nz).

Because this is written notification, you should keep a copy for yourself, and you must allow service times for delivery of the notice to your landlord. This means that if you hand the letter to your landlord the 10 working day period takes effect immediately. However, if you drop it in your landlord’s letterbox you must allow an extra two working days, and if you post it to your landlord you must allow four working days.

If the landlord does not take the property off the market, and you are unable to reach an agreement about ending your tenancy early, you can apply to the Tenancy Tribunal to have the matter resolved. To discuss your situation further, or for advice and information about applying to the Tenancy Tribunal, you can contact the Department of Building and Housing on 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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