Can landlords beak a fixed term tenancy?

Question from Dwayne updated on 23rd February 2011:

We have signed a fixed term tennacy agreement with our tenant through our property managers. We are moving back to NZ and would like to move back into our home before the agreement due date. How much notice do we need to give and can we do this?

Our expert Juliet Robinson responded:

A fixed term tenancy is precisely that.  It cannot be terminated by notice from one party to the other.  Its purpose is to give landlord and tenant certainty – the landlord having security of cashflow from a rent-paying tenant, and the tenant having security of tenure until the agreed end date.

A fixed term can be broken in two ways: by agreement between landlord and tenant to vary the end date, or by an order of the Tenancy Tribunal.  The latter is a possibility only if a landlord can prove to the Tribunal’s satisfaction a greater hardship from the tenancy continuing than the tenant would suffer from having the tenancy broken.

Many landlords will have great difficulty in establishing a greater hardship.   A sensible approach, therefore, is to try to reach agreement with your tenant on an early termination date.  This may involve an offer of compensation to the tenant for such things as moving costs and out-of-pocket expenses.

As you are moving house yourself, you will know the upheaval it entails.  Make a reasonable offer to your tenant, and you may well arrive at a happy agreement.  The fall-back position is for you to find alternative accommodation until the fixed term expires.

Quinovic's outstanding people and systems provide the most professional, effective and reliable residential property management service in the NZ market for over 22 years.


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