Want to move in, can I ask tenants to leave?

Question from Jackie updated on 16th September 2013:

I would like to move back into my house (after a divorce) with my two chidlren. My house is currently under a fixed contract until 2014. If I give my tenants 60-days notice and agree to pay back the agents fees of one week's rent can I break the contract. Am I within my rights ask them to leave? 

Our expert Alan Bruce responded:

Under the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 (the Act), a fixed term tenancy cannot be ended by either party giving notice to terminate the contract before the agreed end date. Fixed term tenancies can only be ended early:  By mutual agreement between the landlord and the tenant(s). If the property undergoes a mortgagee sale, or o n certain circumstances, by the Tenancy Tribunal. I suggest you discuss the matter with your tenant(s) to see if you can reach an agreement to end the term early. 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. An application to the Tenancy Tribunal would require you to satisfy the adjudicator that there has been an unforeseen change in your circumstances that will cause you severe hardship if the tenancy is to continue. Your hardship must outweigh any hardship the tenant(s) would suffer, if the tenancy is ended early. The Tenancy Tribunal can consider awarding reasonable compensation to the tenant(s) in this situation. To discuss your situation further, or for information about ending a fixed term tenancy early, you can visit the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment’s website (www.dbh.govt.nz), 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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