Where do I stand?

Simon asks:
(updated on Friday, October 05th 2012)

My landlord has been doing earthquake repairs. It took much longer then he said it would. He provided a caravan for me and my two children while the work was being done. With no other option I accepted. He said when the work was finished he would leave the rent at the same price. Three weeks into living in the caravan he said someone walked in off the street and made an offer which he was more than likely going to accept. At that point we agreed I should stop paying rent until we figured out what was happening. I'm still in the caravan and I haven’t been given anything in writing. I don’t know if I will be staying on as a tenant or if I am to move. What will happen to me? Will I come home to find my things on the road side when the sale goes through?

Our Experts Answer:

I suggest you discuss the progress of the repairs with your landlord to get an indication on how long the alternative living arrangements may be required and to see if the property is in the process of being sold. If an agreement is reached then it is recommended that that agreement is recorded in writing (such as any agreement regarding rent abatement). If your tenancy is for a fixed term then it can be ended by agreement between the parties but it cannot be ended by notice. When the property sells then you and your landlord can agree to end your tenancy. Otherwise your tenancy will continue on the same terms and conditions with the new owner as the landlord. If you and your landlord agree to end your tenancy early then this agreement should be recorded in writing. If your tenancy is periodic (a tenancy that has no end date specified) then it can be terminated by either party giving written notice. If the property sells and if the landlord is required by an unconditional agreement to give the purchaser vacant possession then the landlord must give at least 42 days written notice to end the tenancy. Should a tenant wish to terminate a periodic tenancy then they must give at least 21 days written notice. Notices to terminate a tenancy must contain certain information and service time must also be allowed for. Visit the Department of Building and Housing website (http://www.dbh.govt.nz/tenancy-az-s) to find out about the requirements for notices of termination and service times. Or phone 0800 TENANCY (0800 836 2620)

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