Getting out

Question from Inge updated on 1st November 2011:

We have signed a 12 month fixed tenancy of which we have completed six months. After three weeks of living in the house, a huge storm and continued rain led to a leak on the upper level and flooding on the lower level. We notified our property manager of the problem only to find the work done did not rectify the problem as we had more floods. Now we've had a second round of contractors who are quoting to repair the house, which will involve ripping up the deck and mending the ceiling leaks. We've been living in these damp conditions for so long now, I actually have been staying elsewhere for three weeks now due to the ongoing issues. Another factor is that the water under the carpets has unearthed a urine smell which is quite unpleasant. We do not want to continue living in the house whilst the repairs are being completed as it will be during winter. How can we terminate our lease?

Our expert Juliet Robinson responded:

A fixed term tenancy can be terminated by one of two means, either by agreement between the parties or by an order of the Tenancy Tribunal. You should talk to your property manager and make clear your intentions. Ask your property manager to pass your wishes on to the owner of the property. The owner should be aware of the problems that are occurring with the house and may be open to you moving out and giving them more space to get the repairs done. If you feel you are unable to continue living in the property and you can’t get satisfaction from the landlord / property manager, you can apply to the Tenancy Tribunal to have your tenancy terminated. The Tribunal will order termination if it considers that such termination is necessary and fair. It is not a rubber-stamping, you will have to justify the request and so you would do well to provide the Tribunal with all the relevant facts to support your request.

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