Fixed vs Periodic Tenancies
Under the Residential Tenancies Act (1986) you can offer either fixed or periodic tenancies when tenanting your property. But which sort of tenancy will best suit your situation? Both tenancies have advantages and disadvantages.
What’s the Difference?
With a fixed term tenancy tenants sign up to stay for 12 months or another set number of months or years. During a fixed term tenancy you cannot simply give the tenant notice to leave. Fixed term tenancies are popular with landlords but can prove to be a double-edged sword.
With a periodic there is no set time a tenant must stay and they can give 21 days’ notice at any time.
Advantages and Disadvantages
The main advantage of a fixed-term tenancy is that you won’t be looking for tenants again in a few months’ time. You will also avoid the increased wear and tear from moving furniture incurred with short-term tenancies. If a tenant signs up to a fixed-term contract, you can be reasonably confident their finances and personal circumstances are stable.
There is more flexibility, however, with a periodic tenancy. If you plan to sell the property in the near future, are thinking about a renovation or considering moving into your property within the next 12 months, a periodic tenancy is a good option.
Under a periodic tenancy landlords must give 90 days’ notice if they want the tenant to leave. This can be done at any time during the tenancy. One exception is if you, or one of the members of your family, want to move in. In this case you can give 42 days’ written notice to break a periodic tenancy. However, tread carefully as there are some fish-hooks. Companies and family trusts don’t have family members and can’t give this shorter notice. Some try, and end up before the Tenancy Tribunal. It’s worth noting that although you must give 90 or 42 days’ written notice, your tenant can give you just 21 days’ notice at any time.
Fixed-term tenancies only require 21 days’ notice prior to the end of the tenancy for both parties to terminate.
Short Fixed-Term Tenancies
Short fixed-term tenancies are another tenancy option. Although they sound similar, these tenancies differ significantly from fixed-term tenancies. As these tenancies are for a shorter time, the rent for the property may be offered at a special rate which does not necessarily reflect the market rental. This may attract tenants who would otherwise prefer a longer-term tenancy. With short fixed-term tenancies the rent cannot be increased, and neither landlord nor tenant can provide notice.
Both parties must agree that the tenancy will be no longer than 120 days. After 120 days the tenancy automatically becomes a periodic tenancy.
Tenants who breach the terms of their periodic or fixed term tenancies can be removed from the property. To do this, they must be issued with a 14-day breach notice, with time to remedy the situation, and then a Tenancy Tribunal application is made for possession of the property if the issue is not resolved. Having a professional property manager such as Crockers is invaluable in situations such as these, as they will be experienced in how to remedy these situations within the law.
End of Tenancy Term
It is worth noting that a fixed tenancy rolls over into a periodic tenancy at the end of the term unless you re-secure the tenancy within the correct time frame. A property manager will ensure the necessary negotiations are carried out in a timely manner giving the landlord peace of mind. Periodic tenancies continue on indefinitely without needing to be renewed.
Which is Best For Me?
Deciding whether a periodic , fixed term or short fixed-term tenancy is best suited to you and your property comes down to a variety of factors, such as your own situation, the tenants your property is likely to attract or even the time of year.
If you aren’t sure, ask a professional property manager for advice - they will be able to provide you with the correct guidance, helping you to make the best decision for your property.
Keep Informed: Legal Changes Afoot
It’s worth noting there is currently an amendment to the Residential Tenancies Act before Parliament which may alter how suitable a fixed term or periodic tenancy is for your property. Submissions are complete and the Select Committee Report is due back to the House on 13 July 2020. If passed, the amendment will make changes to fixed-term and periodic tenancies. Watch this space for further information - or place your property in the capable hands of a Crockers Property Manager who can keep up to date for you!