Renovations while ending tenancy

Question from Hennie updated on 15th May 2019:

We are currently renting on a term lease agreement but we bought a new house and need to break the lease agreement. The agent is happy for us to do this subject to either finding a new tenant or pay the rent until the end of the term which is not possible for us.

The agent initially promised that they will advertise the property through TradeMe but when we asked today for the link to the ad we were told that the owner wants to do some renovations first and that we need to pay rent for the next 2 two months.

This means that we must pay rent for the property while he makes renovations without the change for us, or the agent, to get new tenants. Please let me know what we can do and do we have to pay the rent while he is doing renovations.

 

Our expert Jennifer Sykes responded:

Under the Residential Tenancies Act a fixed term tenancy can only be ended early by mutual agreement between the tenant and landlord. If mutual agreement to end the tenancy early is negotiated, the landlord may seek reasonable costs from the tenant that were incurred while finding new tenants. One way a tenant can help is, with the agreement of the landlord, to find prospective tenants themselves. If your tenancy agreement allows you to sublet or assign the tenancy with the landlords written consent then this may be an option to consider; information on subletting and assignment can be found at tenancy.govt.nz.

If the renovation work you have mentioned requires vacant premises, and the landlord has not agreed to end the tenancy, they would need to come to an arrangement with you regarding how this can occur such as finding alternative accommodation; or if it does not require vacant premises, they would need your agreement to undertake the renovation work. This is because in granting your tenancy, the landlord has given you the right to occupy the premises in exchange for paying the agreed rent until the tenancy comes to an end.

The landlord has a right to enter, with 24 hours’ notice, for the purpose of carrying out necessary maintenance or repairs, but not for renovations. Based on the information provided, you may wish to contact the agent asking the landlord to reconsider ending the tenancy early by mutual agreement because of the promise made by their agent. If the landlord is not prepared to reconsider an early end to the tenancy, you may wish to apply to the Tenancy Tribunal to have the matter resolved.

For more information on fixed term tenancies, subletting and assigned a tenancy and applying to the Tenancy Tribunal, go to www.tenancy.govt.nz. You can also 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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