Tenancies can only be changed if the landlord and all tenants (everyone named on the tenancy agreement) agree. If any of the tenants change, everyone else has to agree.
Whenever this happens, and if a bond is held by Tenancy Services, you must complete and send us a change of tenant form.
If one of the tenants wants to leave
Sometimes when several tenants are named on the tenancy agreement, one of those tenants may at some point want to leave. To do so, they need written agreement from the landlord and the other tenants.
If everyone agrees, the change must be recorded in writing and signed by the landlord and all the remaining tenants. Each party then keeps a copy – the landlord, the tenant who’s leaving, and the tenants who’re staying.
Sometimes the other tenants don’t want to remove a tenant’s name from the tenancy agreement without a replacement. They may want the tenant who’s leaving to find someone to take their place.
If a tenant assigns someone to replace them
Sometimes a tenant finds someone to replace them in the tenancy. This is known as ‘assignment’. The person who replaces the tenant takes over all the tenant’s responsibilities under the tenancy agreement.
Assignment can happen if there’s only one tenant on the tenancy agreement, or if there are several.
A tenant can’t assign their tenancy if their tenancy agreement has a clause that forbids them from doing so.
The landlord and all other tenants must agree
If the tenancy agreement does not forbid assignment, then a tenant who wants to assign their place in the tenancy must obtain the landlord’s written consent. The landlord must not unreasonably withhold their consent, and must not attach unreasonable conditions to their consent. If a landlord does unreasonably withhold consent, the tenant may apply to the Tenancy Tribunal to approve an assignment or end the tenancy.
It’s unlawful if a tenant assigns, sublets, or otherwise parts with possession of the property, without the landlord’s written consent.
A tenant who fails to comply is committing an unlawful act and may be liable for a financial penalty of up to $1,000, and may also be liable to pay compensation to the landlord.
Breaches of the Act has more about unlawful acts.
The tenant must also have the consent of all the other tenants named on the tenancy agreement before they can assign their tenancy to someone else.
The landlord may find a replacement for the tenant
If the tenant who wants to leave asks, the landlord may find a replacement tenant themselves. The landlord doesn’t have to do this if they don’t want to.
The landlord can get the tenant to pay them any reasonable costs they’ve incurred in finding a replacement. Even if the tenant finds their own replacement, the landlord can still get the tenant to pay any reasonable costs (for example, fees for doing a credit check on the replacement tenant).
An assignment must be in writing
The assignment must be recorded in writing and signed by the landlord and all the tenants (including the tenant who’s leaving, and the tenant who’s replacing them). Each party then keeps a copy – the landlord, the tenant who’s leaving, and the tenant who’s replacing them (and the tenants who’re staying, if it’s a tenancy with multiple tenants).
The original tenant must pay what they owe
Once the replacement tenant takes over, the original tenant is no longer responsible for the tenancy from that date onwards. But they’re still responsible for any money, damages etc they owe to the landlord from before that point.
A tenant in a periodic tenancy can just give notice
While the information on this page applies to both fixed-term and periodic tenancies, a tenant in a periodic tenancy who wants to leave can choose to just give notice to end the tenancy. This means that, if there’s multiple tenants named on the tenancy agreement, the landlord can take that notice as ending the tenancy for all of them.
If the other tenants want to remain in the property they should contact the landlord and reach an agreement for the tenancy to carry on.
See Giving notice for how much notice a tenant has to give to end a periodic tenancy.
The bond record must be updated when a tenant changes
Whenever there’s a change of tenant, the tenants’ names need to be updated on the bond record. To do this, fill in a change of tenant form.