Ending fixed-term tenancies

Question from Iliganoa updated on 30th September 2016:

I, the main tenant, just found out that we've been getting noise control complaints that go back two years (although most have been this year). I gave my ex-criminal son permission to have parties with his friends in my garage to keep him away from trouble but I was never told that noise control have been around a few times. Equipment were never confiscated and the police apparently were never able to come around so it was just the council who did.

The council then went to the agent with the report and the agent rang my daughter and, rudely, had a go at her for it. They even sent unprofessional emails making things up that weren't on the council report. We then got a 14 day remedy notice. BUT, before 5 days were up, we were told that we have to leave before the (fixed) tenancy agreement is up or they'll take us to the Tribunal. They are threatening that if we don't move, all costs will be our responsibility.

Scared, my daughter gave three months from now without letting me know first. However, after speaking with my first born overseas, I feel we've been mistreated. What can we do?


Our expert Allan Galloway responded:

Under the Residential Tenancies Act, neither party to a fixed-term tenancy can give notice to end the agreement before the end date.

The Act allows a fixed-term tenancy to be ended early by:

• mutual agreement between all the people on the agreement, or

• by the tenant’s assigning their interest in the premises, or

• by Order of the Tenancy Tribunal.

If a landlord issues a 14 day notice, and the breaches contained in the letter are not remedied, the landlord can apply to have the tenancy terminated. Such an application could include the landlord seeking a possession order for the return of the premises to them, and the award of other costs for losses they incur as a result of the tenancy being terminated.

In the first instance you should speak with your landlord to try to resolve the issue.

Every tenant named on the tenancy agreement has tenancy rights and responsibilities. Anyone who signs a tenancy agreement with other people is taking on shared responsibility for the whole tenancy. This is called ‘being jointly and severally liable’. It means that if one of the tenants disturbs the peace, comfort and privacy of their neighbours or their landlord’s other tenants, then all of the other tenants can be held responsible.

For further information regarding landlord and tenant rights and responsibilities, including information on fixed-term tenancy agreements and the dispute resolution process contained in the Act, you can visit our website at www.tenancy.govt.nz.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment provides information and guidance on building law and compliance, services including weathertight homes, and advice for tenants and landlords.

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