Fixed term tenancy and noise issues

Question from Charlie updated on 8th March 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 expert Jeff Montgomery responded:

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.


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