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.
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
The Residential Tenancies Amendment Act 2020 states that from 11 February 2021, landlords must consider all requests from tenants to assign the tenancy and must not decline unreasonably. Landlords may include reasonable conditions when giving consent for assignment that the tenant must meet. Subletting can also occur with agreement.
A landlord can no longer prohibit assignment in the tenancy agreement for any new tenancy granted from 11 February 2021.
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.