Releasing difficult tenant

Question from Bill updated on 15th June 2018:

My tenants asked for a rent reduction slightly after moving in saying the carpet was broken. I refused her. Then she started to look for all kinds of excuses to terminate the one year fixed agreement and even apply to the Tribunal. She also asked for compensation for thousands of dollars. i am totally annoyed by this. I don't think there is fault on my part. But the tenants may still get some compensation. Even if she cannot get a coin, but she seems to have no risk in the case. I have found a new tenant. Should I release the current tenant?

 

Our expert Jennifer Sykes responded:

Under the Residential Tenancies Act, a landlord or tenant in a fixed-term tenancy agreement cannot give notice to end the agreement before the end date, unless the premises is uninhabitable. The only ways to end it early would be for both the landlord and tenant to agree to an earlier end date, or if the Tenancy Tribunal decides to end the tenancy because of a breach of the Act or tenancy agreement, or they may reduce the term of the tenancy in some cases if there has been an unforeseen change in circumstances which would lead to severe hardship if the tenant had to remain.

If you agree to release the tenant from the fixed term tenancy early you may attach reasonable conditions to your consent, for example that they cover any reasonable costs incurred in finding a replacement tenant to take over, such as advertising. If you choose to release the current tenant early from the fixed term tenancy, then you may wish to talk with the tenant again to see if you can sort out any other issues noted in the Tribunal application. If you cannot reach an agreement, the application will carry on to the Tenancy Tribunal for a decision.

For more on the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants, go to www.tenancy.govt.nz or subscribe to our e-newsletter Tenancy Matters here.

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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