The landlord or tenant can’t give notice to end a fixed-term tenancy early. However there are some options available if landlords or tenants want to do this.
Important COVID-19 information on ending a fixed-term tenancy:
Under the COVID-19 Response (Urgent Management Measures) Amendment Act, fixed-term tenancies will convert to periodic tenancies when the fixed term expires, except if both landlord and tenants agree otherwise or the tenant gives notice. This means that if your fixed term expires between 26 March and 25 June 2020, and your landlord did not give notice for it to end before 26 March, you can stay in the property and it becomes a periodic tenancy. If the initial three-month period is extended by the government, the date that notice can be given will change correspondingly.
Landlords and tenants can agree to end the tenancy early
Fixed-term tenancies can only be changed if the landlord and all the tenants agree. Any agreement should be in writing and should include what’s been agreed to. Both the landlord and tenants should keep a copy of this.
The landlord may charge a fee for ending the fixed-term early. These fees should only be their actual and reasonable costs. For example, the cost to advertise for new tenants.
A tenant might assign or sublet the property
If a tenant wants to move out before the end of the fixed-term, they might be able to sublet the property. They may also be able to assign their tenancy to someone else. If a tenant sublets their property, they will still have to meet their responsibilities under their tenancy agreement.
If a landlord or tenant has an unexpected change in circumstances they can apply to the Tenancy Tribunal for help. If the applicant will suffer from severe hardship if the tenancy continues, the Tribunal may decide to end the fixed-term early at a date the Tribunal determines is appropriate. For this to happen the hardship of the applicant (if the tenancy continues) would need to be greater than the other person's (if the tenancy ends early).
The landlord and tenant should discuss the change in circumstances first and try to reach an agreement.
The tenant can also apply to the Tribunal to end the fixed-term early if their rent has increased by a large amount. The Tribunal may do this if the increase is an amount that:
- the tenant couldn’t have expected when they signed the tenancy agreement, and
- will cause them serious hardship.
Changes to body corporate rules
If you rent an apartment or flat and there’s a change to body corporate rules that negatively affects you, you can apply to the Tenancy Tribunal for help. The Tribunal may decide to end the fixed-term tenancy early.
The Tenancy Tribunal may order compensation
When the Tenancy Tribunal decides to end a fixed-term tenancy early, it may also order for compensation to be paid. The person who wanted the fixed-term to be ended may have to pay compensation to the person who didn't. This is to help cover some of the costs the other person may have to pay.