Can I terminate my fixed term tenancy if the landlord has subdivided and the new owner is planning to build?

Question Details: We are in a fixed 12 month tenancy ending in early 2014. Our landlord decided to subdivide the property after we moved in. We have just been told by the new neighbour/purchaser that he intends to start building soon. We were never told about possible subdividing of our property by property management, and there is nothing in our tenancy agreement. What can be done? Can we terminate our tenancy? Will this require forfeiting our bond? Or can we terminate the tenancy and keep our bond?

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Answers by Lawyers

Community Law Wellington & Hutt Valley

No, you cannot terminate a fixed term tenancy by giving the landlord notice. A fixed term is precisely that, a tenancy with an agreed end date. To terminate early you need the landlord's agreement.

However, you are entitled to quiet enjoyment of the property during your tenancy. If you understood at the start of your tenancy that you were renting the whole property, then the landlord may be in breach of that agreement by taking some of the property away from your tenancy. You should bring this to your landlord's attention. The landlord may agree to halt the building, or to allow early termination of your tenancy or to reduce the rent. You will not necessarily have to forfeit your bond.

If you cannot resolve your issues with your landlord, read here about sorting out disputes: www.communitylaw.org.nz or www.dbh.govt.nz. You can also call 0800 TENANCY for free information.

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