Renting Guide

How much notice do I need to give my landlord?

Everything you need to know to make sure you can leave your tenancy smoothly

Last updated: 13 March 2024

When you’re ready to move on from your rental property it’s important that you know how much notice to give your landlord to avoid disputes and extra costs. To help you get it right here’s everything you need to know about giving notice when moving out. 

How to give notice to end a tenancy

You must give at least 28 days notice to your landlord or property manager to end a periodic tenancy in NZ. To be valid the notice should always be written and include: the tenancy address, the date the tenancy will end and the signature of the tenant providing the notice. 

Tenancy law states that if the latter is put in the letterbox two working days are added to the notice period, four days if it was delivered via PO Box, and one extra day if the notice is emailed after 5pm. You can vacate the property if you’ve provided less than 28 days notice, but only if the landlord agrees to this arrangement in writing. 

Note: the above is accurate at the time of writing but the National coalition government plans to reduce tenant notice periods to 21 days for periodic tenancies some time in 2024. They are also planning to allow landlords to evict tenants with no reason given, provided they give 90 days notice. 

Can I end a fixed term tenancy agreement early?

The above notice period of 28 days only applies to periodic tenancy agreements while generally a tenant cannot give notice to end a fixed term tenancy early. There are exceptions to this rule and tenants can end a fixed term tenancy early if:

  • They agree to end the tenancy with the landlord: This should be in writing and include details of what the agreement is. 

  • They sublet the property: for all tenancies granted from 11 February 2021 onwards, landlords must consider requests from tenants to assign the tenancy to another person, and they must not decline unreasonably. In other words if you find another suitable tenant to take over the tenancy your landlord must agree unless there’s a good reason why they can’t and you can apply to the Tenancy Tribunal to challenge their decision. 

  • They experience family violence: if you experience family violence during a tenancy you can remove yourselves from the tenancy by providing two days written notice with evidence of family violence. There will be no financial penalty. 

If you’re in a fixed term tenancy and you’d like to end it, the best thing to do is usually contact the landlord or property manager, explain your reasons and make a request. Most landlords will be reasonable and provide options for the end of the tenancy, whether that’s a sublet or another agreement. All of these communications and agreements should be written, not in person or over the phone. 

The landlord can charge reasonable fees to end a tenancy but these must be reasonable costs that were actually incurred. This could include advertising to find a new tenant and fees to property managers for showing the property to prospective tenants. 

When you're ready to move out you have to do more than just give your place a clean.

Applying to the Tenancy Tribunal to end a fixed term tenancy

You can also apply to the Tenancy Tribunal to end a tenancy in a few circumstances. That includes:

  • If you’d experience severe financial hardship if the tenancy continues. If this is the case speak to your landlord first before you apply to the Tenancy Tribunal. 

  • If the rent increases by a large amount which you couldn’t have expected when you first signed the agreement and will cause you serious hardship. 

  • If there’s a change to the body corporate rules that negatively affects you, you can apply to the Tenancy Tribunal for help. They may decide to end the tenancy early. 

The Tenancy Tribunal is a valid option for all tenants in the above circumstances and during disputes with the landlord. However, it’s usually best (and easiest) to start by contacting the landlord or property manager directly via written communication (usually email) to resolve issues amicably without involving an official body. If this doesn’t work, the Tenancy Tribunal can usually help. 

*We hope this article has provided some helpful information. It's based on our experience and is not intended as a complete guide. Of course, it doesn’t consider your individual needs or situation and it is not financial advice. If you need advice on your tenancy agreement speak to a lawyer with experience in the field.


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).