Renting Guide

Everything you need to know about ending a fixed term tenancy

Ready to go? Here’s what you need to do

Last updated: 2 April 2024

When you’re ready to leave your rental you’ll need to give your landlord notice to end your fixed term tenancy. It’s worth doing this right, as it’ll ensure that you pay the minimum rent and can move on without any conflict. 

But how much notice do you need to give your landlord to terminate your fixed term tenancy? And how can you serve it? Here’s everything you need to know. 

How to give notice to end a tenancy

When giving your landlord notice to end a fixed term tenancy the notice must:

  • Be in writing and be signed by the person providing notice. 

  • Provide the address of the tenancy.

  • Give the date the tenancy is to end. 

Notices can be delivered to the other party in person, placed in their letterbox or fixed to their door. You can also send an email or fax, if these contact details are listed on the tenancy agreement. 

How much notice must I give my landlord to end a fixed tenancy?

Fixed term tenancies automatically become periodic tenancies when they end. If you’d like to end your fixed term tenancy at the end of the fixed term you’ll need to give notice:

  • Between 90 and 21 days before the expiry date of the fixed term if the tenancy agreement was signed before 11 February 2021. 

  • 28 days before the expiry date of the fixed term if the tenancy agreement was signed on or after 11 February 2021. 

If you need to leave before the end of the fixed term, breaking a fixed term tenancy agreement is acceptable in some limited circumstances. 

If you're ready to leave your rental it's always better to do it by the book.

Can you end a fixed term tenancy early?

If you’d like to break a fixed term tenancy the best thing to do is always contact your landlord or property manager right away and explain your circumstances. The majority of landlords are reasonable and don’t want to keep a tenant locked into an agreement against their will. With that said, tenancy law states that a fixed term tenancy can be ended early if:

Landlord and tenant agree

If both the landlord and tenant agree in writing a fixed term tenancy can be ended early. The notice period must also be agreed on. The landlord is allowed to charge reasonable costs for ending the tenancy early - this might include the costs of advertising the property for rent and finding a new tenant. If you think the costs charged are unreasonable you can query them with the landlord and apply to the Tenancy Tribunal. 

Tenant assigns or sublets the property

If you find a suitable tenant to take over your tenancy and ask the landlord, they must not decline unreasonably. You can also sublet the property (rent it out to another tenant) with the landlord’s consent. 

In most cases, if you don't intend to return to the property, it’s better to have the tenancy assigned or have another tenant take over the lease. That’s because if you sublet the property you may be responsible for unpaid rent or damages caused by the new tenant.

Experiencing family violence

When you’ve experienced family violence you can remove yourself from the tenancy by providing two days written notice to your landlord, with proof of the violence. 

If you, or someone you know, is in danger, call 111 right away. When violence occurs, leave the home immediately and get help from family and friends or one of many organisations that support victims of violence

Applying to the Tenancy Tribunal

If continuing the tenancy would cause you severe hardship, or if the rent has increased by a large amount that could cause you severe hardship you can apply to the Tenancy Tribunal. The same goes for if a body corporate rule change negatively affects you. The Tenancy Tribunal may then decide to end the fixed term tenancy early. 

If you need advice on a dispute with your landlord there's free help available.

Getting advice on ending your fixed term tenancy early

If you’re still unsure what to do you can get advice on ending your fixed term tenancy from:

Both of these services are completely free and can help you understand your rights as a tenant. 


Ben Tutty
Ben Tutty

Ben Tutty is a regular contributor for Trade Me and he's also contributed to Stuff and the Informed Investor. He's got 10+ years experience as both a journalist and website copywriter, specialising in real estate, finance and tourism. Ben lives in Wānaka with his partner and his best mate (Finnegan the whippet).