Notice on a fixed term?

Question from Claire updated on 4th May 2012:

I have a property with tenants on a 12 month fixed term. They have stopped paying rent three months in. What can I do ? Can I end the agreement or issue them with some kind of notice? I have heard about a 10 day notice letter. How far behind in rent do they need to be before I can get them out of my property?

Our expert Megan Martin responded:

Fixed term tenancies cannot be ended by notice even when either party is in breach of the tenancy agreement. However, there are options available to you when the rent is in arrears. If the rent is less than 21 days in arrears, you can issue the tenant with 14 days’ written notice to remedy the breach by bringing the rent up to date. As the notice must be in writing, you must allow for service time and should keep a copy of the notice for yourself. A template for 14 days’ notice and information about service times can be found on the Department of Building and Housing’s website www.dbh.govt.nz. If the tenant does not comply with the notice, you can apply to the Tenancy Tribunal to have the matter resolved. If the tenant is at least 21 days in arrears (and all rent in advance has been used), you can make an application to the Tenancy Tribunal for an order to end the tenancy, and to recover any outstanding rent. If a bond is held by the Department, you could also include in your application a request that the bond be returned to you to off-set the arrears. To discuss your situation further or for information about applying to the Tenancy Tribunal, you can visit the Department’s website (as noted above), or call 0800 TENANCY (0800 836 262).

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment provides information and guidance on building law and compliance, services including weathertight homes, and advice for tenants and landlords.

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