Ending sub-tenancy?

Question from Sam updated on 13th May 2015:

In the case of a sub-tenant, how much notice is required if there is no written agreement? Either by their choice or landlords?

Our expert Alan Bruce responded:

Under the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 (the Act), the amount of notice required to be given to end a tenancy agreement covered by the Act will depend on the nature of the agreement. There is also a difference between a sub-tenant and a flatmate. A sub-tenancy is created when tenants who rent a property move out, and enter into a subsequent tenancy agreement with other people to rent the property. A tenant who sublets the premises also becomes known as a sub-landlord and their tenants are known as sub-tenants. A tenant cannot sublet the premises without the agreement of the landlord, and this agreement should be documented in the tenancy agreement. Tenants who have people living with them who are not listed on the Tenancy Agreement are not in a subletting arrangement. This is normally called a flatting arrangement. Flatting agreements are not covered by the Act and parties should seek independent advice as how to end this sort of agreement. The Act also states that a verbal tenancy agreement can still be enforced as if the agreement was in writing. Generally landlords (including sub-landlords) are required to give a minimum of 90 days’ notice to terminate a periodic tenancy, and 42 days’ notice may be given in certain circumstances. Tenants are required to give a minimum of 21 days’ notice. Fixed-term tenancies cannot be ended by notice, but may be ended by mutual consent or by the Tenancy Tribunal in limited circumstances. Information for landlords on how to end a tenancy can be found on our website here: http://www.tenancy.govt.nz/landlords-ending-a-tenancy. Information for tenants on how to end a tenancy can be found on our website here: http://www.tenancy.govt.nz/tenants-giving-notice. In the case of a sub-tenancy, where the landlord is giving notice to terminate the tenancy, the landlord may, on the same day, give a notice to the sub-tenant to terminate the sub-tenancy on the same date the tenancy will end. Where a landlord has not consented to a sub-tenancy, upon the main tenancy ending, any sub-tenancy will also come to an end. To discuss your situation further you can call 0800 TENANCY (0800 836 262) between 8.00am-5.30pm Monday to Friday to speak with a member of our Tenancy Advice team. You can also visit our website: www.tenancy.govt.nz/tenancy-index.

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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