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).