The way the Residential Tenancies Amendment Act (RTA) is being rolled out has created some confusion around which tenancies the changes apply to, e.g., “my fixed-term tenancy started before this amendment passed… does it apply to my tenancy?”, etc.
Let’s clear this confusion up by looking at different time frames and scenarios, and how each type of tenancy is affected by the changes, so you know your rights and can rest easy about your tenancy.
Terminating Residential Tenancies in New Zealand
One of the most prolific changes that came out of 2020’s RTA Amendment Act was the eradication of no cause terminations. This has left some landlords and tenants unsure about what notice period they need to give to terminate their tenancy. If you’re a Christchurch landlord or renter in this boat, see the following dates and tenancy types to see which scenario fits your current (or future) tenancy.
Terminating Periodic Tenancies
Periodic Tenancies signed before or after 11 February 2021 can be terminated by the landlord with:
- 63 days’ notice where:
- The owner or a member of the owner’s family requires the property as their principal place of residence.
- The property is required for occupation by employees or contractors of the landlord.
- 90 days’ notice where:
- The property is to be sold.
- Extensive alterations or redevelopment are to be carried out.
- The premises are to be converted into commercial premises, or demolished.
Notice periods for tenants themselves to terminate a periodic tenancy have increased from 21 to 28 days.
Terminating Fixed-term Tenancies
Fixed-term tenancies signed prior to 11 February 2021 can be terminated under the terms of the tenancy when it was signed. In other words, the tenancy can be ended on the fixed-term tenancy end date by the landlord or the tenant with 21 days’ notice.
Fixed-term tenancies signed on or after 11 February 2021 will convert to periodic tenancies unless:
- A landlord gives notice using the reasons listed in the RTA for periodic tenancies.
- A tenant gives notice for any reason at least 28 days before the end of the tenancy.
- The parties agree to extend, renew, or end the fixed-term tenancy.
- For some fixed-term tenancies, 63 days’ notice will be required from the landlord, and for other situations, 90 days’ notice will be required.
Terminating Fixed-term and Periodic Tenancies under other circumstances
From 11 August 2021 (or earlier if the Government agrees):
- Tenants experiencing family violence will be able to withdraw from a tenancy without financial penalty.
- In this situation, the tenant must give two days’ notice accompanied by appropriate evidence of the family violence.
- Landlords will be able to end a periodic or fixed-term tenancy with a 14-day notice if:
- Police have laid a charge against the tenant in respect of an assault against the landlord, the owner, a member of their family, or the landlord’s property manager.
Terminating a tenancy when the Property is Being Sold
For Periodic Tenancies:
- The landlord will be required to give the tenant at least 90 days’ notice under an unconditional agreement for the sale of premises.
- The landlord will be required to give the tenant at least 90 days’ notice for vacant possession where the landlord is putting the property up for sale.
For Fixed-term Tenancies:
- When a fixed-term tenancy is sold, it is still sold subject to existing tenancies — vacant possession is not possible prior to the fixed-term end date unless mutually agreed between the tenant and landlord.
Ending fixed-term tenancies under the new law, landlords are able to give 90 days’ notice to end a fixed-term from the unconditional date.
This means that notice does NOT need to be given exactly 90 days before the end of the fixed-term to end it. The law provides that the notice period is not affected by the end of the fixed-term date. So, if a landlord gives 90 days’ notice and there is 40 days before the end of the fixed term, the date of termination is 50 days after the fixed-term date.
If planning on vacating their fixed-term tenancy in a property that has been listed for sale or sold, the tenant must give 28 days’ notice if leaving before the expiry of a fixed-term tenancy, or after the landlord has issued 90 days’ notice of the property being put on the market or having been sold.