If you want the tenant to vacate you must give them a termination notice. The notice must:
- be in writing
- be signed and dated by you or your agent
- be properly addressed to the tenant
- give the day on or by which the tenant is requested to vacate
- where appropriate, give the grounds/reason for the notice.
You can write your own notice or use the model termination notice provided by Fair Trading.
The minimum period of notice you can give the tenant to vacate is:
- 14 days – if the tenant is 14 days or more behind with the rent or has committed some other breach of the tenancy agreement
- 30 days – if the fixed term of the agreement is due to end
- 30 days – if the premises have been sold after the fixed term has ended and vacant possession is required by the buyer under the terms of the sale contract
- 90 days – if the fixed term period has expired and no new agreement has been signed.
These notice periods are designed to give tenants reasonable time to find another rental property. If they can find a property sooner they can move out at any time without having to give you any formal notice. Except where notice has been given for the end of the fixed term, the tenant’s responsibility to pay rent ends from the date they hand back possession, not the end of the notice.
After you issue a notice you can issue another notice on a different ground if necessary. For example, if you issue 90 days notice to terminate a periodic tenancy without a reason, and the tenant then doesn't pay rent for 14 days, you can issue a non-payment of rent notice.
If you give notice and your tenant does not vacate by the due date the only action you can take is to apply to the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal for a possession order. You cannot forcibly evict the tenant yourself or take action such as changing the locks or cutting off the water or power supply. Heavy penalties and compensation could be payable if you do.
You need to apply to the Tribunal within 30 days after the date to vacate specified in your termination notice. Whether you obtain a possession order is up to the Tribunal to decide, based on the evidence you and the tenant present at the hearing. In the case of notice ‘without a reason’ the Tribunal must make a possession order if the notice was served correctly, unless the tenant can prove it was retaliatory.
If the Tribunal makes an order it will give the tenant a date to move out. If the tenant still does not vacate you will need to obtain a warrant for possession from the Tribunal’s Registry and have it enforced by the Local Court Sheriff’s Office.