What are tenants' rights to leave in joint tenancy

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    What are tenants' rights to leave in joint tenancy

    My son is a student in London and is about to rent a flat with a couple of friends on a one year, then rolling tenancy with two month's notice. It is not a student flat as such, but the landlord has accepted them on a joint tenancy, and the tenancy agreement refers to the tenant in the singular, as if they were one person. The agent insists they pay one deposit to which each will give one third (practically a grand each) which we will have to lend him. I wanted to know from the agent how we would get that money back in the event of our son wanting to leave and the others wanting to keep the flat on. She said the others would have to give him the money, but I asked what if they couldn't? Then I got to thinking about, if he wanted to leave and they didn't, how would he get out of paying rent? Would he still be liable to pay for the room for as long as the others wanted to stay, or could he leave. And who would be responsible for finding a new tenant? What if he found a replacement and the landlord rejected them? We asked her to put in writing that one of the renters alone had the right to end the tenancy, because otherwise any one of them could be liable indefinitely if the others didn't want to end the tenancy, but she seems to have problem with putting this in writing. I'm sure his friends are good people, but we've never met them, and it feels like we don't have any reassurance beyond being expected to trust people who are strangers to us. What happens in these instances and what is our legal position? Any advice gratefully received.

    #2
    I'm afraid your son would not be able to end his liability during the fixed term unless the other tenants and the landlord agreed. There is effectively only the Tenant, comprising all parties indivisibly.

    If the tenancy becomes statutory periodic then he will be able to serve notice unilaterally to end the tenancy for everyone. If it becomes contractual periodic, (ie the periodic phase is prescribed in the agreement), then it will depend on the wording.

    Comment


      #3
      In a joint tenancy, there is one legal tenant, who (in this case) is three people.

      Each of the three people is actually liable for all of the rent (and all of the deposit, all of the terms of the contract and all of the liability if anything is broken or damaged).

      That's not unusual, though, it's just how this kind of tenancy works.
      And nothing the agent can do to change that.

      Your son is making a minimum of a 12 month commitment (although see below), a one year fixed term can't be ended by either the tenant oe the landlord in less than that.
      When the 12 months comes to an end, any one of the three people can serve notice and that ends the entire tenancy (for all three people).
      Depending on how the tenancy is worded, the notice is slightly different, but it's likely to be effectively 2 months in both cases, so the 12 month commitment is actually at least 14 months.

      There might be a break clause to end the tenancy early - but that would normally need all three people to agree it, even if there is.

      Some landlords and agents are happy for people to swap in and out of a tenancy, but they don't have to agree.

      This sounds pretty standard for a student let, though.
      When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
      Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).

      Comment


        #4
        Thank you so much for helping - that's great and very kind of you! This is the wording of the contract in which the tenancy is referred to as a "contractual periodic". We have no problem with the fixed term of a year and do not envisage him leaving during that 12 months. What concerns us is the possibility of continued liability in the event that he hands in his notice to leave after the fixed period but the other tenants remain. The wording of the AST is as follows:

        The Term shall be from and including 2nd November 2021 to and including 1st November 2022 (the
        Fixed Element) and then the tenancy continues as a monthly contractual periodic (the Periodic
        Element) until ended following either party giving notice. Please see clause 2.5 as it contains important
        information about what you must do to end the tenancy.

        The “Term” is to include any periodic continuation of the tenancy beyond the Fixed Element.
        Break Clause

        Then this is Clause 2.5......

        2.5.1 This agreement creates a single tenancy that starts with a Fixed Element and then becomes periodic.
        This would normally guarantee both parties the rights and obligations for the Fixed Element and a
        minimum of one period.
        2.5.2 The Tenant may bring the tenancy to an end at, or at any time after, the expiry of the Fixed Element, by
        giving to the Landlord at least two months’ written notice stating that the Tenant wishes to vacate the
        Property. A letter will suffice to implement this sub-clause. While the tenancy is periodic the one month’s
        written notice must expire the day before a Rent Due Date.
        2.5.3 The Landlord may bring the tenancy to an end at, or at any time after, the expiry of the Fixed Element,
        subject to any statutory limitations, by giving to the Tenant at least two months’ written notice stating that
        the Landlord requires possession of the Property. A notice under section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 will
        suffice to implement this sub-clause.

        So if he handed in his two months notice at the end of October 2022, but his friends didn't (and no replacement tenant was arranged), could the landlords say he was still contracted to pay after the end of December?

        Thank you.



        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by bananas View Post
          So if he handed in his two months notice at the end of October 2022, but his friends didn't (and no replacement tenant was arranged), could the landlords say he was still contracted to pay after the end of December?
          There's an issue with that question.
          A tenant isn't able to give notice in the fixed term of a contract, which probably applies to the Fixed element of a contractual tenancy.
          But it happens all the time and, usually, agents and landlords accept it - and it's quite conventional in student contracts - although the dates are unusual in this case.

          The earliest your son could end the tenancy without challenge is by giving two month's notice on the final day of the Fixed Element, so it's really a 14 month committment.

          Given the nature of this forum, this question comes up from time to time and it can be quite common for an agent/landlord not to share this understanding and insist on one person leaving find a replacement, which can be tricky, or that everyone serves notice - which might not suit the other sharers.
          However, they're wrong.

          When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
          Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).

          Comment


            #6
            "The Tenant may...." gives an option that does not limit any other unspecified options that would otherwise be valid.

            2.5.2 The Tenant may bring the tenancy to an end at, or at any time after, the expiry of the Fixed Element, by giving to the Landlord at least two months’ written notice stating that the Tenant wishes to vacate the Property.
            "The Tenant" here is referring to all the tenants jointly, so all 3 must agree to give such a notice.

            While the tenancy is periodic the one month’s written notice must expire the day before a Rent Due Date.
            "the one month" here must be referring to a normal notice to quit under common law give the context with the lack of reference to any one month notice in the sentences prior.

            Without contractual qualification otherwise, a notice to quit can expire on the last and first day of a period of the tenancy, i.e. day before and day of Rent Due Date. This appears to limit the notice to only the "day before". Which is fine as there doesn't appear anything to limit when the tenant can give the notice to quit, so not stopping the NTQ from being given before the last day of the fixed element.

            So all 3 gives two months notice to end tenancy on or after 1 November 2022, or any of them give a notice to quit of at least a month expirying on the 1st of any month from and including December 2022.
            I am not a lawyer, nor am I licensed to provide any regulated advice. None of my posts should be treated as legal or financial advice.

            I do not answer questions through private messages which should be posted publicly on the forum.

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by jpkeates View Post
              A tenant isn't able to give notice in the fixed term of a contract, which probably applies to the Fixed element of a contractual tenancy.
              A tenancy is either a fixed term or it's periodic. This is not a fixed term tenancy. It must thus be a periodic tenancy, merely one where the first period is 12 months long with subsequent period one monthly. There's nothing stopping a tenant from giving notice on day 1 of such a tenancy.

              The earliest your son could end the tenancy without challenge is by giving two month's notice on the final day of the Fixed Element, so it's really a 14 month committment.
              I disagree per my above post.
              I am not a lawyer, nor am I licensed to provide any regulated advice. None of my posts should be treated as legal or financial advice.

              I do not answer questions through private messages which should be posted publicly on the forum.

              Comment


                #8
                Thank you everyone for your support and advice! Very much appreciated. So ultimately, am I correct in thinking that at the end of the fixed term, one tenant can unilaterally end the tenancy for all tenants by giving notice, even if the other two wish to continue the tenancy? And if the remaining tenants wanted to continue living there, they would have to negotiate a new tenancy with the agents? And the person leaving would have no liability?

                Comment


                  #9
                  Unless the tenancy terms specify otherwise, then yes, during a periodic tenancy any of the joint tenant can unilaterally serve notice to end the tenancy. Assuming the departed joint tenant did not assented to any others holding over, then the departed tenant would not liable for anyone else not leaving. They also obviously won't be liable for anything related to any new tenancy agreed by other people.

                  A potential issue is deposit as you stated in the opening post. If the tenancy ends, the landlord must repay it less any applicable deductions, and in many cases the landlord can simply pay it all to one of the joint tenant. If that person don't portion it back with the others, the landlord aren't liable. You'll have to go away the other joint tenant that kept the money.

                  Almost a grand per room in a house/flat share is quite a bit, is the total less than or equal to 5 weeks rent?
                  I am not a lawyer, nor am I licensed to provide any regulated advice. None of my posts should be treated as legal or financial advice.

                  I do not answer questions through private messages which should be posted publicly on the forum.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    It might not be the answer but i share my experience as i am travellimg in the same boat right now and i will find the answer soon. I gave NTQ 4 months ago on rolling contract and left the propeety. Every landlord/estate agent claim the leaving party is still responsible for the arrears as well as future arrears but not sure whether are successful in court or not.

                    In my case , i know rest of the tenants haven't paid rent after i left. I was told i am still responsible for future rent when i handed over key, so far lamdlord not contacted me for rent in last 3 month though he has my contact details.

                    But my research online says any reasonable landlord negotiate new contract when one tenant shows signs of leaving during periodic contract. But new contract is successful or not depends on rest of the tenants capacity to pay rent. So it is not always guaranteed that rest of tenants will get new contract. In my case landlord didn't bother to chase rest of tenants for new contract, instead told me to chaae them to sign new contract. They refused to sign as they are hoping i will be dragged into the future arrears.

                    In another similar case, landlord gave S21 notice to all tenants after receiving one tenants NTQ after consulting his/her legal team. In my case too, we were given S21 notice after my NTQ thru his legal team. Most landlords don't want to face this type of tricky situatuon and S21 reasonable defence for them.

                    so far my understanding is landlords continue to maintain their stand of leaving party still liable for rent but their legal team thinks differently.

                    I know it is not 100% answer but try to add my expeeience to the topic. There are lot of knowledgable members on this forum and hope some one will respond.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by KTC View Post
                      A tenancy is either a fixed term or it's periodic. This is not a fixed term tenancy. It must thus be a periodic tenancy, merely one where the first period is 12 months long with subsequent period one monthly. There's nothing stopping a tenant from giving notice on day 1 of such a tenancy.
                      That explains it.
                      Thanks.
                      I disagree per my above post.
                      I am corrected and my statement that "The earliest your son could end the tenancy without challenge is by giving two month's notice on the final day of the Fixed Element, so it's really a 14 month commitment." is wrong and should be ignored.
                      When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
                      Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by bananas View Post
                        am I correct in thinking that at the end of the fixed term, one tenant can unilaterally end the tenancy for all tenants by giving notice, even if the other two wish to continue the tenancy?
                        KTCs point is that the use of the word "may" in the notice clause allows other means of the tenant serving notice besides the one specified. The principle is that unless a contractual periodic tenancy prevents it, a tenant could serve a notice unilaterally during the periodic phase under established case law. This may be challenged by the landlord, (or his solicitor), so you should be prepared to stand your ground and/or come back for more help.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Thank you to everyone who has commented - it has been immensely helpful. In the end, we got the agent to agree, by email, that each tenant had the right to unilaterally end the tenancy. Exactly what that will prove, legally speaking, is debatable, but it makes us feel a little better. Their behaviour has been quite shocking - such a neurotic response to people who are about to send them thousands of pounds with very little understanding of why we should want to clarify the legal position. Don't appreciate my husband being shouted at, told he is wasting their time and talked over during phone calls when he was keeping his cool and merely expressing the opinion that it was reasonable to expect to guard against a situation, further down the line, where our son could feel trapped in a legal agreement that was detrimental to his interests. I can only presume that these agents work on commission for very money driven bosses.

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