Ending a fixed term tenancy
A tenancy usually ends in the following ways:
- if it’s a “periodic” tenancy (one that runs indefinitely), it ends by you or the landlord giving the necessary amount of notice
- if it’s a fixed-term tenancy, it ends by the tenancy reaching the agreed end date.
The Tenancy Tribunal can also make an order ending a tenancy in some cases – for example, if you’re three weeks or more behind in the rent.
“Periodic” tenancies are ones that run indefinitely, with no fixed end date in the agreement. If one side wants to end the tenancy, they have to give the legally required amount of notice. The notice period is different depending on whether it’s you or the landlord who gives notice.
Any notice to end a tenancy has to be in writing.
How much notice do I have to give when I move out?
If you want to end the tenancy you have to give your landlord at least four weeks (28 days) notice, unless the landlord agrees that you can give less notice than this.
How much notice does my landlord have to give me if they want me to move out?
From February 2021, landlords must give you 90 days (at least three months) notice if they want to end the tenancyand it has to be for one of these reasons:
- the landlord is putting the property on the market for sale within 90 days of the set end date, or
- they’ve sold the property and the owner needs it to be empty (known as an unconditional sale, with “vacant possession”), or
- it would be impractical for you to stay in the property because the landlord wants to do major alterations, refurbishment, repairs, or redevelopment within 90 days of the set end date, or
- the landlord is changing the property to a commercial premise for at least 90 days, or
- the landlord needs the property to be vacated for a business activity, and they told you that they use the property for that purpose, or
- the landlord wants to demolish the property within 90 days after the set end date.
However, they only have to give you 63 days (at least nine weeks) notice if:
- the landlord or one of their family wants to live in the place as their main home (usually it has to be immediate family) for at least 90 days, or
- one of the landlord’s employees is going to live there, and the landlord told you before the tenancy started that the property was used for housing employee, or
- your tenancy agreement clearly states that the landlord is the Ministry of Education and the property is usually for a school board of trustees.
If you’re given only 63 days’ notice in one of those situations, the landlord’s written notice to you must give the reason for ending the tenancy.
- Your obligations at the end of the tenancy
Your responsibilities when you move out
When your tenancy comes to an end, you must:
- move out and take all your things with you
- leave the place reasonably clean and tidy, including taking away all your rubbish (but you don’t have to leave the place any cleaner or tidier than it was when you moved in)
- leave all the furniture, appliances and so on (“chattels”) that the landlord provided with the house or flat (these should be listed in the tenancy agreement) – you also have to replace any standard light bulbs that have blown
- return the keys to the landlord.
If you leave some of your things behind, there are rules the landlord has to follow for dealing with them. Food and other things that won’t last can be thrown out straight away. With other things, the landlord has to try to contact you to arrange for you to pick them up. If the landlord can’t reach you or you don’t pick up your things, the landlord can usually get rid of them or sell them.