If you’re new to being a landlord, ending a tenancy agreement may be foreign territory—with potential fines if you don’t follow the rules to the letter. Read on to learn the essential steps for ending both periodic and fixed-term tenancies.
Rules for giving notice
When tenants are on a periodic tenancy agreement, landlords can simply give notice to tenants.
Important note: The rules are different if tenants are on a fixed-term tenancy. You cannot end a fixed-term tenancy early. Only in rare circumstances will the Tenancy Tribunal permit you to do this. Read more here.
When giving notice to end a periodic tenancy, you must:
Provide the notice in writing.
Give at least 90 days’ notice, unless you have sold the property—this requires a minimum of 42 days’ notice.
Include the address of the tenancy, the date the tenancy is to end, and your signature as the property owner.
How to serve a written notice
You can deliver the written notice:
In person—handed directly to the tenant, placed in the letterbox or attached to the door of your rental property.
Via post—you can mail it to the property’s address or to a PO Box (as long as it is listed in the tenancy agreement).
Via email—but only if it is listed in the tenancy agreement.
Via fax—but only if it is listed in the tenancy agreement.
Keep in mind, until your tenant has received the notice, they are not considered “notified”. If you choose to send the notice by post, email, fax, or leave it in the tenants’ letterbox or front door, you must allow extra time for the notice to be delivered. These times vary depending on the method you use:
Letterbox or front door—2 working days
Post to address or PO Box—4 working days
Emailed after 5pm—1 working day (i.e. the following working day)
Emailed before 5pm—none (it is considered delivered on the same day).
Handed over in person—none (it is considered delivered on the same day).
Ending a fixed-term tenancy
A fixed-term tenancy is a binding contract—both for you and your tenant. You cannot end a fixed-term tenancy early unless:
It’s by mutual agreement between both you and the tenant.
The tenant agrees to assign or sublet the property to another tenant for the remainder of the lease.
You or the tenant applies to the Tenancy Tribunal for severe hardship.
What is considered severe hardship?
A situation that causes an unforeseeable change of circumstances that is causing (or will cause) financial hardship for the landlord or the tenant if the fixed-term tenancy continues. This could include:
The tenant loses their job.
The landlord goes bankrupt and is forced to sell.
Rent increases unexpectedly by a large amount and meeting the payments will cause severe hardship for the tenant.
Important! The hardship of the applicant (if the tenancy continues) must be greater than the other parties (if the tenancy ends early).
Note: When the Tenancy Tribunal becomes involved, they may order for compensation to be paid to the party who didn’t want to end the fixed-term tenancy early.
Learning to manage a rental property can be a steep learning curve, but with the right guidance you can make the curve smoother and less stressful. With our guide, you can learn the essential (and legal) need-to-knows of being a landlord.