Call of the Week: Joint tenants parting ways
This week our advice team were able to help a member with a question they had in relation to tenants who were on a joint tenancy agreement and had recently split up.
This is a fairly common question for our advice team.
The landlord gave our advice team a call because the couple he rented his property to had fallen out. One had stopped living at the property-having moved out and taken their belongings with them.
The remaining tenant had confided in the landlord that the rent would be slightly late because he was struggling to pay for both.
The landlord was already aware that technically the tenancy remains ongoing, and he would be able to chase up either of the tenants for the rent to be paid. But he sympathized with the remaining tenant, and phoned us up for some advice on what he could do in this situation.
Our advisor began by pointing out to this landlord that when multiple tenants sign a tenancy, they are all jointly and severally liable under that agreement.
The rent total must be paid, and all the tenants are bound by the terms that they have signed. To end this agreement, all tenants must either agree to surrender the tenancy, or a valid notice is given by one of the tenants when they are able to do so outside of the fixed term.
What our advice team advised
Our advisor informed this member that from here, they have two options.
Inform the tenants that the tenancy continues on whether they reside there or not, and to continue to demand rent
Get all parties to agree to a surrender of the tenancy if the landlord feels they want to allow that. The tenants have opportunity to give notice to leave if they wait until the end of the fixed term.
Surrendering the tenancy
The advisor informed the landlord that in his situation, the sensible way to move forward first things first may be to explain to the tenant that their joint and several liability continues under the AST unless some agreement can be come to on ending the tenancy.
The quickest way to end this tenancy, because the agreement is within its fixed term, is to surrender the tenancy.
Chasing up one tenant to pay the whole of the rent, which they may not be able to, whilst the other person is no longer at the property and they are in the midst of a relationship breakdown, might not end well for anyone involved. The relationship between the landlord and their tenants may also quickly breakdown as well.
Both parties should sign, and the landlord should only allow the tenants to leave the tenancy once they’ve received the keys back from each tenant.
If this surrender is at the request of the tenant(s) who want to end the tenancy early, then some fees can be recovered for the loss incurred by the landlord allowing this to take place.
The member informed our advisor that they knew where their ex partner was staying and that they’d be able to get them to surrender the tenancy in the next few days. They thanked our advice team for their understanding.