Can I break a fixed term tenancy?

Question from Pam updated on 8th April 2010:

We are looking at buying a house that has a tenant on a fixed term lease, with another year or so to go. At some stage we would want to move into the property ourselves. Can we give them notice or do we have to wait for the lease to finish?

Our expert Jeff Montgomery responded:

Fixed term tenancies cannot be terminated by notice. Where a property sells that has tenants with an existing fixed term tenancy in place, the new owner would inherit the fixed term tenancy, along with all the existing terms and conditions. In this situation a new owner may wish to negotiate with the tenant to see if they can agree to end the term at an earlier date, as fixed term tenancies can be ended by mutual consent. The details of any such agreement should be recorded in writing.

However, the tenant does not have to agree to this, and can continue with the tenancy until the expiry of the fixed term period. I suggest that if you are looking to purchase a property with a fixed term tenancy in place, that you seek independent legal advice regarding what options are best suited to you in your situation. To discuss your situation further, 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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