Termination for Non-Payment of Rent

Non-payment termination notice

A non-payment termination notice must be in writing, signed by the landlord/agent and set out:

  • the premises concerned
  • the day by which the landlord/agent wants vacant possession of the premises – they must give you at least 14 days notice
  • the ground for the notice – non-payment of rent.

The notice must also inform you that you are not required to vacate the premises if you:

  • pay all the rent owing, or
  • enter into, and fully comply with, a repayment plan agreed with the landlord.

The notice must be properly ‘served’ to you in person, by post, by fax, or hand-delivered in an addressed envelope to a mailbox at your residential or business address. If the notice is posted, the landlord/agent must allow an extra 4 working days for delivery.  A termination notice alone does not end the tenancy. The landlord/agent must apply to the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal (CTTT) for a termination order.

Application for a termination order

A termination order ends the tenancy and specifies the day on which you have to give vacant possession (you move out and return the keys). The landlord/agent may apply for a termination order at the same time they give you a termination notice. However, the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal  cannot consider the application before the date specified in the notice.

If you pay the arrears or fully comply with an agreed repayment plan, the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal  cannot make a termination order and your tenancy will continue. However, be aware that if the landlord applies for a termination order on the basis that you have ‘frequently failed’ to pay the rent on time, the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal  may terminate your tenancy (even if you have paid the arrears).

Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal

Once the landlord/agent has applied to the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal , you will receive a notice of ‘conciliation and hearing’ telling you the date, time and place of the hearing. It is important that you attend the hearing – even if you have already caught up with your rent or the landlord/agent tells you not to turn up.

Take to the hearing all letters, receipts and other evidence to support your case.

Conciliation (assisted negotiation)

The tribunal member will encourage you and your landlord/agent to resolve the rent arrears problem together in conciliation. If you think the landlord has made a mistake about the rent arrears or with the termination notice, tell the conciliator or the tribunal member straightaway.

If you agree that you owe rent, you can make an agreement with the landlord/agent to pay it back over a period of time. Explain your situation and show that you can pay off the arrears (e.g. show a letter from a financial counsellor).

Do not offer to pay more than you can afford because if you then fail to meet the agreement, the landlord can then apply to the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal and your tenancy may be terminated. If you and the landlord/agent cannot come to an agreement, your case will be heard by a tribunal member.

At the hearing

  • Ask the tribunal member for time to bring your rent up to date and to allow you to continue your tenancy.
  • Show the tribunal member all the letters or rent receipts that you have brought with you.
  • Explain how much extra you can afford to pay per week.
  • Tell the tribunal member about any hardship that you or your family may undergo if you have to leave your home.

The tribunal member will look at your evidence and the landlord/agent’s evidence. In considering the circumstances of the case, the member may consider:

  • the nature of the breach
  • any previous breaches
  • any steps you have taken to remedy the breach (such as your attempts to pay off the arrears)
  • the previous history of the tenancy.

The Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal  may refuse to make a termination order if it is satisfied that you have remedied the breach.