Ending fixed term tenancy
Question from Cedomir updated on 3rd April 2019:
We are on a fixed tenancy agreement. Our agent notified us, telling us that the owner wants to move in and we need to vacate the property once our contract expires. The agent also told us that, if we want to vacate the property earlier, we need to give a 21 days notice.
We notified them 23 days earlier, and told them that we want to move out 12 days before our contract expires, but we have suddenly been told (a week before we wanted to move out) that our request for earlier termination has been declined, as we can do that only if we are on a periodic tenancy.
In an e-mail, we were explicitly told that we can leave earlier, as long as we give the required notice. What can we do about this, and what are our rights?
Our expert Jennifer Sykes responded:
Under the Residential Tenancies Act, neither party to a fixed-term tenancy can give notice to end the agreement before the agreed end date. Although the Act does allow for a fixed-term tenancy to be ended early by mutual agreement between the landlord and tenant, which could include mutual agreement on an agreed notice period or a specific earlier end date. Any mutual agreement should be in writing and should clearly detail what has been agreed to.
If it is not agreed in writing it may be harder to prove if a dispute arises. For example, correspondence by email detailing any mutually agreed notice period a tenant may give to end the fixed term tenancy early. If you are unable to reach an agreement on this issue with the landlord, you can apply to the Tenancy Tribunal to have the matter resolved.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.