Leaving leases early

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Sometimes things happen in a tenant’s life and they are unable to stay in the property for the whole of the lease. It could be due to financial issues, changes in relationships or maybe the property itself is no longer suitable.

In these circumstances both the tenant and the agent/landlord have a “duty to mitigate loss”. What this means is that both parties need to keep any financial losses to a minimum.

The Residential Tenancy Act 1997

The Residential Tenancy Act 1997 (RTA) covers the law regarding termination of leases.

Under the RTA if a person on a fixed term lease wishes to leave before the end of the lease, then they are responsible for rent until the end of the lease, unless a new person is found to take on a lease for the property, or unless the tenant serves a Notice to Terminate stating breaches of the lease by the landlord. (If you think your landlord/agent has breached the lease and you want to leave, please contact the Tenants’ Union).

Under the RTA the landlord must take all reasonable steps to find a new tenant for the property. These reasonable steps should include offering the property for the same rent, and for the same conditions as the current lease. The tenant is responsible for all of the reasonable costs involved in finding a new tenant.