Leaving a flat 

For general information about ending a tenancy, visit our Ending a tenancy page. For information about leaving a flatting situation, read on.

There are two of us named on the tenancy agreement and the other person is leaving. What are my options? 

In a situation where one tenant is leaving, the options for the remaining tenants are as follows:  

  • end the tenancy altogether or  
  • transfer the tenancy of the outgoing tenant to a replacement tenant (provided the tenancy agreement allows it and all remaining tenants and the landlord agree) or  
  • find a replacement flatmate (i.e. their name will not be on the tenancy agreement), provided the existing tenancy agreement allows this.

If the new person will be a tenant, then a Change of tenant form must also be completed and signed by current, incoming and outgoing tenants. This removes the outgoing tenant from the bond record and replaces it with the new tenant. 

You could be liable for the departing tenant’s share of the rent unless a new tenant or flatmate is found to replace the one who is leaving.

More information about change of tenancy is on the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Tenancy website and on our Ending a tenancy page.

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We all jointly signed a tenancy agreement for a flat a few months ago – but now I want to move out. How do I go about it?

If you have a fixed-term tenancy and wish to leave before the end date, you’ll need to get written permission from the remaining tenants and the landlord. All parties need to keep a copy of this document. The remaining tenants may require you to find someone to take your place. 

If you have a periodic tenancy, you can just give the landlord 21 days’ notice to end the tenancy. However the landlord can the decide to end the tenancy for all of the tenants – so if the remaining tenants want to stay they’ll need to talk to the landlord about staying on.

You should be able to get your share of the bond refunded if your name is on the Bond Lodgement form. You can call the Tenancy Services Bond Advice Line (0800 737 666) if you aren’t sure.

More information about change of tenancy is on the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Tenancy website and on our Ending a tenancy page.

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I am flatting with three other people and they are kicking me out. Can they do this?

It depends on whether you are a tenant (i.e. you signed the tenancy agreement) or not.

If you are a tenant, your flatmates cannot evict you (even if they are also tenants) because you have a legal right to remain in the flat in accordance with your tenancy agreement. 

If you didn’t sign the tenancy agreement then you are a flatmate and have fewer rights in this situation. A tenant has the right to evict someone from the flat who is not a tenant – but they should give reasonable notice.

If you and your flatmates are all co-tenants and your flatmates think you have breached the tenancy agreement, they could ask the landlord to take action. See our Flatting issues page for more information about these kinds of disputes.

Your local CAB can help you consider your options.

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How much notice do I need to give my flatmates if I want to leave the flat? I’m not named on the tenancy agreement.

As a flatmate (and not a tenant) there is no specific notice period that is legally required of you when you wish to leave the flat, but if you signed a flatting/house sharing agreement when you first moved in, the notice period is probably stated there (most likely 14 days).

If you did not agree to any specific notice period for leaving, you can leave as soon as you want – but it would be considerate to give at least a couple of weeks’ notice.

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The head tenant, whose name is on the lease, is refusing to return my bond money to me. Can he do this? 

The head tenant should refund you your share of the bond on the flat when you leave. However, they might be within their rights to withhold some or all of your bond money if you owe rent, or have caused damage to the flat. If you signed a flatting/house sharing agreement check what you and the head flatmate agreed to when you moved in.

The Tenancy Tribunal does not deal with disputes between flatmates, so if you and the head tenant can’t come to an agreement over the return of your bond money, your best option is to make a claim to the Disputes Tribunal. See our Flatting issues page for more.

If the head tenant does not dispute that you are entitled to get your bond money returned to you, but won’t or can’t give you the money (e.g. because they have spent the money) you can try to get your money back by making an application to the District Court or through a debt collection agency. More about this is on our Recovery of debts page.

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I'm the head tenant and I'm going overseas before the tenancy ends. My flatmate wants to take over the lease. What do I need to do?

If you have a periodic tenancy you can talk to your landlord about arranging to have your flatmate replace you as a tenant, when you give your landlord notice.

If you have a fixed term tenancy and will be leaving before it expires, you’ll need your landlord’s agreement to terminate your tenancy agreement early and sign a new agreement with your flatmate - or to change the agreement so that it is in your flatmate’s name. 

However in a fixed-term tenancy your landlord is not obliged to agree to either of these options.

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The head tenant won’t return my bond money until I find a replacement. What are my rights?

If you didn’t agree to this condition when you first moved in, then the head tenant can’t withhold your bond money.

However, if this condition was agreed to when you moved in – perhaps in a flatting/house sharing agreement - then you should try to honour the agreement. 

If you can’t find a replacement flatmate, or didn't agree to it in the first place, you could try coming to an agreement with the head tenant, to get your bond money back. If you can’t come to an agreement you could make a claim to the Disputes Tribunal. More information is on our Flatting issues page.

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What happens to our bond if we have a change of flatmate?

Bond money paid at the start of a tenancy is only refunded at the end of the tenancy (when all of the tenants move out). It is paid to the person or people named on the Bond Lodgement Form (usually the same person or people named on the tenancy agreement).

Generally, when one person in a flat leaves and is replaced by a new one, the incoming person pays their share of the bond money to the outgoing person.

It is important to note that only the tenants (the people who are listed on the tenancy agreement) are directly responsible for the bond and only they can apply to Tenancy Services for a bond refund when the tenancy ends.

If the flatmate who is moving out is a tenant (they are named on the tenancy agreement), the incoming and outgoing tenants must complete and sign a Change of Tenant form and this updates the bond record. More about this is on the Tenancy website.

If your flatmate did not sign the tenancy agreement they won’t be able to claim the bond back from Tenancy Services - they would have to obtain their refund from one of the tenants. More about this is below.

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The flatmate who held the tenancy has left and the landlord wants us out. Can we stay? What about our share of the bond?

If the flatmate who left was the only one whose name was on the tenancy agreement, then the remaining flatmates will also have to move out unless the landlord agrees to set up a new tenancy agreement with them (also see There are two of us named on the tenancy agreement and the other person is leaving. Will I be made to pay their share of the rent?).

Bond will only be refunded to the person or people who signed the Bond Lodgement form (that is, those who signed the tenancy agreement). So if the rest of you are not named on the bond lodgement form, you must recover your share of the bond money from the flatmate who did sign the form.

The tenant would have had to sign a Bond Refund form in order to get the bond money back. If they did not do this when they left, you can try tracking them down and asking them to do so. If the tenant disputes that they owe you a share of the bond money you can make a claim to the Disputes Tribunal.