Landlords' family moving in?

Heather asks:
(updated on Thursday, June 13th 2013)

My partner and I are in a fixed term tenancy agreement with another couple at a property. The landlords' daughter is one of the other tenants. A few months ago, without consulting us, the landlords begun storing some of their possessions in one of the garages on the property. They have also suggested that they are selling their own home and may need to live in a caravan on our property along with their dog and 16-year-old son. It has also been suggested that the landlordss other son who is about 24 live inside the house with us, he is not on the tenancy agreement. We understand that we have the right to refuse all of these actions as we did not agree to any of this in our fixed term agreement. We feel as though we are being pushed out of our home.It is likely that we will have to sign to cancel our agreement. Are there any forms of compensation we could receive if we did sign or would we need to go through the tenancy tribunal to resolve the issue?

Our Experts Answer:

The Residential Tenancies Act 1986 (the Act) generally applies to all residential tenancies. However, certain situations are excluded from the Act (and therefore not covered by the Act), such as where the premises are used principally as a place of residence by the landlord or the owner of the premises, or by any member of the landlord or owners’ family. Where a situation is excluded from the Act, the parties can agree that the Act (or certain parts of the Act) will apply to their agreement. As your landlord’s daughter resides in the premises with you, whether your tenancy is covered under the Act may depend on what has been agreed to as part of your tenancy agreement, and whether both parties have contracted into the Act (in whole or in part). For tenancies that are covered by the Act, fixed term tenancies can only be ended early by mutual agreement between the landlord and the tenant(s) (meaning that if either party does not agree to end the fixed term early, the fixed-term will continue), or in limited circumstances, by the Tenancy Tribunal. If all parties agree to terminate a fixed term tenancy early (including any terms and conditions agreed to), the details of that agreement should be recorded in writing, preferably on the tenancy agreement. Likewise, any variation to the terms of a tenancy agreement must also be mutually agreed to by both parties and recorded in writing (preferably on the tenancy agreement) and signed by both the landlord and tenant(s), meaning that any variation to the tenancy agreement that both parties do not agree to will not be valid. If you do not agree with any changes proposed to your tenancy, we would recommend you discuss this with your landlord. If you are unable to reach an agreement with your landlord regarding your situation, or if you’re not sure whether your situation is covered by the Act, you can apply to the Tenancy Tribunal to have the matter resolved. If your situation is not covered under the Act, and an agreement cannot be reached, you may wish to seek independent legal advice from a lawyer or your local community law centre regarding your concerns, and your options for resolution. To discuss your situation further, or for information about applying to the Tenancy Tribunal, you can visit the Ministry’s website (as noted above), or call 0800 TENANCY (0800 836 262).

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