Can I end my fixed tenancy due to an insect infestation?

Question from Tara updated on 24th October 2008:

I live at a place that has a HUGE red ant problem out in the yard (tons of them), I have informed the landlord many times but they have done nothing about it. I have a 7 month old son that wakes up with bites that I think may be coming from them. Am I allowed to move out, which would break my lease 2 and a half months early, without charges?

Our expert Jeff Montgomery responded:

Issues such as an insect infestation do not enable tenants to end a fixed term tenancy early without the consent of the landlord. A fixed term tenancy may only be ended early by mutual agreement between the landlord and the tenant, or by the Tenancy Tribunal in certain circumstances. I recommend that you talk to your landlord about moving out of the property early. If you and your landlord agree to end your tenancy early, you should record the terms and conditions of that agreement in writing. It is likely that you will have to reimburse the landlord for some costs. This could include things like advertising for new tenants, but the costs have to be reasonable and they have to be a result of your leaving early.

Often, getting rid of insects is the responsibility of both the landlord and the tenant jointly (unless either one of you has caused the problem). You may also wish to try talking to your landlord again about getting rid of the ants. If you can’t agree with your landlord about removal of the ants or ending your fixed term 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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