Changing tenancy term

Mark asks:
(updated on Wednesday, August 07th 2013)

Our landlord has indicated that they might want to change us from a periodic tenancy to a fixed term tenancy. This isn't ideal for us because we are looking to buy (in Christchurch), something they were aware of when we took on the tenancy six months ago. Obviously in the existing Christchurch rental market we aren't really in a position where alternative rental accommodation is a sure thing. If they decide to continue with doing so then what are our rights and their obligations? I assume that we can either agree to change the tenancy or they give us 90-days notice to terminate the tenancy?

Our Experts Answer:

You’re quite correct. At the centre of this question is the difference between a periodic tenancy and a fixed term tenancy. The word that should follow both is “agreement”. Under your current agreement (and in line with the Residential Tenancies Act 1986) you have the right to terminate the tenancy by giving the landlord 21 days’ notice and, conversely, the landlord can terminate it by giving you 90 days’ notice. It would appear that the landlord now wants to get more certainty in their planning by having a fixed term tenancy. If you can agree to a term that suits you both, then do so. The bottom line is that the landlord has a right to terminate the tenancy and then find a new tenant who is willing to sign up for a fixed term.

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