Ending fixed term tenancies

Question from Tracey updated on 28th October 2016:

I see you can break a fixed term tenancy if the house is uninhabitable, but what about if your flatmates are constantly having parties? There are house rules as part of the agreement with this tenancy which says if they are breached we will be given notice. This includes rules about parties and noise. My flatmates party almost every night and I awake to bottles on every surface in the lounge and kitchen and urine on the toilet floor. I have reported this repeatedly and have moved out now. But the property manager will not let me out of the lease. Do you have any advice please?

Our expert Allan Galloway responded:

Under the Residential Tenancies Act, a fixed term tenancy cannot be ended by either party giving notice to terminate the contract before the agreed end date.

Fixed-term tenancies can only be ended early: • by mutual agreement between all the people on the agreement (the landlord and all tenants), or • if the property undergoes a mortgagee sale, or • if the property is destroyed or is so seriously damaged as to be uninhabitable, or • in certain circumstances, by Order of the Tenancy Tribunal.

The options available to you will depend on the type of tenancy arrangement that you have in place. If you are listed as a tenant on the same tenancy agreement with your flatmates, in order to be released from the fixed-term you will need the written consent of the landlord and all of the other tenants. This may involve you finding a replacement tenant to take over your interest in the tenancy. The landlord can continue to hold all tenants listed on the tenancy agreement liable for the tenancy until the fixed term comes to an end, or until a mutual agreement between all parties is reached.

If your tenancy agreement is for your room only with use of the shared common areas, then your landlord has a responsibility to take all reasonable steps to ensure that none of the tenants interfere with the quiet enjoyment (the reasonable peace, comfort, and privacy) of their other tenants, in the use of the premises. In this situation, a tenant could give the landlord 14 days’ written notice requiring the landlord to take all reasonable steps to resolve the problem.

A template for 14 days’ notice and information about service times can be found on the Ministry’s website at www.tenancy.govt.nz. If the notice is not complied with, the tenant may make an application to the Tenancy Tribunal to have the matter resolved, which may include an order seeking termination of the tenancy.

It is unclear from your query what type of tenancy agreement you have. If your tenancy is considered a boarding house tenancy, other options will also apply, including giving notice to end the tenancy (Boarding House tenancies cannot be for a fixed term).

For further information regarding landlord and tenant rights and responsibilities, you can visit our website. Alternatively, if you would like to discuss your situation further, you can call 0800 TENANCY.

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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