Tenancy notice periods

Question from Lazarus updated on 2nd October 2017:

If a landlord gives notice to terminate the tenancy and the tenant finds a new place to live within a short time after the notice is issued. What is the maximum period for which that tenant must pay rent for? Is it only up till when they vacate the property?

Depending on your answer to the question above, do circumstances change in any way if the landlords original notice was not a notice because it was not valid (i.e. 42 days was given with an accompanying invalid reason which does not comply with Section 51(1) in the Act). In this case due to the landlords incompetence they are insisting on 42 days even though the tenant has already raised that it should be 90 days...

Basically, I am curious if 21 days notice is still legally required from the tenant even though the incompetent landlord seems to think that his notice was valid?

Lastly, if a tenant gives their 21 days notice, do they always strictly have to pay up to those 21 days or can the landlord in any way waive this?

Our expert Allan Galloway responded:

Under the Residential Tenancies Act, when a landlord serves a lawful notice to terminate a periodic (open-ended) tenancy, the tenant must pay the rent up to and including the last day of that notice. This is regardless of whether the termination notice is for 90 days or 42 days. However, if the tenant wishes to leave before the landlord’s notice has expired, they are required to give the landlord not less than 21 days’ notice in writing to end the tenancy agreement.

Both parties are required to continue to fulfil their responsibilities until the end of the tenancy. A tenancy can be ended earlier by mutual agreement between the landlord and tenant (or tenants) named on the tenancy agreement. A landlord may also waive rent that is due if agreed.

If the period of notice given by either the landlord or tenant is incorrect, they should discuss this matter with each other first to try and reach an agreement to vary the first notice so it is correct. If they are unable to agree, then either party can make an application to the Tenancy Tribunal for a decision on this matter.

For more on the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants, including information on resolving disputes and applicable service times when giving a notice to terminate the tenancy, go to www.tenancy.govt.nz.

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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