The landlord or tenant can’t give notice to end a fixed-term tenancy early. However, a few options are available if either party wants to end the fixed-term early.

Landlords and tenants can agree to end the tenancy early

Tenancies can only be changed if the landlord and all the tenants (everyone named on the tenancy agreement) agree. So if either party wants to end the fixed-term early, they can approach the others to see if they’ll agree. Any agreement should be in writing, clearly stating what’s been agreed to, and each party should keep a copy.

The landlord may charge a fee for ending the fixed-term early. These fees should only be their actual and reasonable costs.

Watch this video to learn more (external link) about the commonly asked questions we receive about a tenant wanting to end a fixed term tenancy early.

A tenant might assign or sublet the property

If a tenant wants to be released from their obligations under a tenancy agreement, they might consider assigning their tenancy to someone else.

Change of tenant has more about assigning a tenancy to someone else.

If a tenant wants to move out before the end of the fixed-term, they might consider subletting the property.  It is important to understand that subletting doesn’t release the tenant from their obligations under their tenancy agreement.

Subletting has more about when and how a tenant can sublet.

Applying to the Tenancy Tribunal

Because of a change to body corporate rules

Body corporates are entities made up of all the owners of a unit title development (which are usually apartment blocks, townhouses and flats). The body corporate is responsible for maintaining common property and utilities such as lifts, lobbies and driveways.

If there’s a change to body corporate rules that negatively affects tenants, a tenant can apply to the Tenancy Tribunal to end their fixed-term tenancy early. The Tribunal may do this if it’s satisfied that, because of the change, it would be unreasonable to require the tenant to continue with the tenancy.

The Tenancy Tribunal may order compensation for ending a fixed-term early

When the Tenancy Tribunal makes an order to end a fixed-term early, it may also order the person who wanted the fixed-term ended to pay compensation to the other party. This is to help cover some of the costs the other party might incur – for example, the cost of advertising for a new tenant.

Because of severe hardship

If a landlord or tenant has an unforeseen change in their circumstances, which will cause them serious hardship if the tenancy continues, they can apply to the Tenancy Tribunal to end the fixed-term early. The Tribunal may do this if it’s satisfied the hardship of the applicant will be greater than the hardship of the other party if the tenancy ends early. If the Tribunal agrees, they may reduce the fixed term and end that tenancy at a date the Tribunal determines appropriate.

It is recommended that the party contacts the other first to explain their change in circumstances and attempts to reach a mutual agreement to end the fixed term early.

The tenant can also apply to the Tenancy Tribunal to end the fixed-term early if their rent is increased by a large amount. The Tribunal may do this if it’s satisfied the increase is an amount that:

  • the tenant couldn’t have reasonably foreseen when they signed the tenancy agreement, and
  • will cause them  serious hardship.