Fixed term tenancy and noise issues

Charlie asks:
(updated on Tuesday, March 08th 2011)

I am currently the sole leaseholder of a fixed-term rental agreement. Three weeks ago I moved out of the house and arranged for my flatmate to take over the rental agreement which is currently under consideration at the letting agency. While I have been gone there has been several noise complaints from neighbours resulting in a notice to desist from the landlord. There has since been another noise complaint after receiving the letter. I have two questions: firstly, is the letting agency able to refuse to remove me from the lease in light of the noise complaints; and secondly, if the new tenants were to be evicted while I was still on the lease, would I be liable for any rent that was lost while the agency found new tenants? Your advice would be appreciated.

Our Experts Answer:

Fixed term tenancy agreements cannot be terminated by notice. A fixed term can only be ended early by mutual agreement between the landlord and tenant, or by the Tenancy Tribunal in certain circumstances. Where both parties agree to terminate a fixed term early, tenants can still be responsible for rent until a new tenant is found, or the expiry of the fixed term (whichever is earlier).

The details of that agreement should be recorded in writing, preferably on the tenancy agreement. If your landlord agreed to end your tenancy and commence a new agreement with your flatmate, then your obligations to the tenancy will continue until the end of your tenancy. If your tenancy has not yet ended, then you are also responsible for the actions of anyone at the property at your invitation (including your flatmates).

I suggest discussing the matter with your landlord and your flatmates, as this may affect whether your landlord agrees to end your tenancy and sign up a new one with your flatmates. 

The Department of Building and Housing provides information and guidance on building law and compliance, services including weathertight homes, and advice for tenants and landlords.


Heartland Bank - Online 1.99
The Co-operative Bank - First Home Special 2.09
HSBC Special 2.25
ICBC 2.25
HSBC Premier 2.25
Kainga Ora - First Home Buyer Special 2.25
AIA 2.29
TSB Special 2.29
The Co-operative Bank - Owner Occ 2.29
SBS Bank Special 2.29
Westpac Special 2.29
Heartland Bank - Online 2.35
ICBC 2.35
HSBC Premier 2.35
TSB Special 2.49
SBS Bank Special 2.49
The Co-operative Bank - Owner Occ 2.59
BNZ - Classic 2.59
ASB Bank 2.59
AIA 2.59
China Construction Bank Special 2.65
Kiwibank Special 2.65
HSBC Premier 2.89
TSB Special 2.99
AIA 2.99
Westpac Special 2.99
ICBC 2.99
ASB Bank 2.99
China Construction Bank Special 2.99
BNZ - Classic 2.99
SBS Bank Special 3.19
Kiwibank Special 3.19
The Co-operative Bank - Owner Occ 3.19
Heartland Bank - Online 2.50
Resimac 3.39
Kiwibank - Offset 3.40
Kiwibank Special 3.40
Kiwibank 3.40
Bluestone 3.49
Select Home Loans 3.49
ICBC 3.69
The Co-operative Bank - Standard 4.40
The Co-operative Bank - Owner Occ 4.40
Kainga Ora 4.43