Advice Needed. joint tenancy agreement and one tenant defaulting on rent.

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  • Advice Needed. joint tenancy agreement and one tenant defaulting on rent.

    hi, me and my fellow tenants are in abit of a pickle.

    we are students and rented a property for accomodation and signed a joint tenancy agreement. there were initially 4 of us, however, one the tenants didnt pass their first year of university and never moved in. he payed rent for the first 3 months but stopped and now there are arrears of over £2000 in unpaid rent. initially, the landlord said they would be persuing the guarantor but had no reply and we have now received solicitors letters with court preceedings starting soon. what options do we have as we all have separate guarantors and we have been fufilling our part of the rent on time. i understand that the joint tenancy agreement means we are all liable for the unpaid rent, but as students, we dont have any income and shouldnt we the non paying tenant be only liable with him and his guarantor being persued only?

    i would like to thank those who reply in adavance as this is a very stressful issue at the moment.

  • #2
    Originally posted by dipz1110 View Post
    hi, me and my fellow tenants are in abit of a pickle.

    we are students and rented a property for accomodation and signed a joint tenancy agreement. there were initially 4 of us, however, one the tenants didnt pass their first year of university and never moved in. he payed rent for the first 3 months but stopped and now there are arrears of over £2000 in unpaid rent. initially, the landlord said they would be persuing the guarantor but had no reply and we have now received solicitors letters with court preceedings starting soon. what options do we have as we all have separate guarantors and we have been fufilling our part of the rent on time. i understand that the joint tenancy agreement means we are all liable for the unpaid rent, but as students, we dont have any income and shouldnt we the non paying tenant be only liable with him and his guarantor being persued only?

    i would like to thank those who reply in adavance as this is a very stressful issue at the moment.
    I am really sorry that it is proving stressful for you, but unfortunately, although it does seem unfair, the LL is indeed legally entitled to pursue any or all of you and possibly any or all of your guarantors (depending on the wording and validity of the G agreements). That is exactly what 'joint and several liability' means.

    In the end, a contract is a contract (as you are discovering). It was not a good idea to allow the room to go unoccupied when your friend did not move in - he or you (or all of you) should have found someone else to take his place and have them put onto the TA in your friend's place. When does the fixed term of your tenancy end?

    If your LL pursues this debt through the courts and you do not/cannot pay, you may will end up with a county court judgement against you and possibly against your guarantors. You may be able to sue your friend for the money but presumably you would have the same difficulty as your LL is doing. Is the 4th tenant still in the UK? Do you have any contact details for him?
    'Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation fo the first link on one memorable day'. Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

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    • #3
      In addition to MTG's advice and questions it may be worth looking at the agreement in a little more detail so that you can be sure of your current status, in particular that you have a joint tenancy. The detail that raises a query in my mind is your reference to separate guarantors for the individual occupants. This may imply sole rather than joint tenancies.

      So, if you are able to do so, could you provide more detail on the detail of both the tenancy agreement and the guarantors' agreements. The exact wording would be helpful if possible.

      Comment


      • #4
        Same question, from the other side of the fence

        I am on the other side of this fence ...

        I am a LL with a number of student properties. My AST agreements are all worded "Joint & Several liability" but Ive never tested this part of them because Im unsure as to how the court would respond.

        I currently have an identical situation to that described by DIPZ1110 (Before you ask - No completely unconnected case, Im not his landlord ) but I would have thought that the court would expect me to take legal action against the defaulting tenant first and obtain a CCJ against him/her. Then, if defaulting tenant still failed to pay up, the court would accept an action against remaining tenants.

        Even then Im a little unsure, as surely the court would expect me to take further CCJ enforcement action against the defaulting tenant before going after the others.

        I guess it boils down to the same question as DIPZ1110 posed, ie how far is a LL compelled to go to pursue deaulting tenant before he can turn to the other co-tenants ?

        Comment


        • #5
          L is not 'compelled' to do anything. He/she can pursue any one of the tenants- or any combination of them- at his/her discretion.
          JEFFREY SHAW, solicitor [and Topic Expert], Nether Edge Law*
          1. Public advice is believed accurate, but I accept no legal responsibility except to direct-paying private clients.
          2. Telephone advice: see http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?t=34638.
          3. For paid advice about conveyancing/leaseholds/L&T, contact me* and become a private client.
          4. *- Contact info: click on my name (blue-highlight link).

          Comment


          • #6
            Jeffery I would never question your obvious superior knowledge, but is this really really true, I am an LL in a similar situation and one tenant has not paid rent, can I just pick whichever of the others to pursue? Do I not have to prove that I have chased the defaulting tenant?

            I have just walked out of small claims court where ex-tenant A (of a joint and several tenancy) sued me for compensation over some repairs, they lost. Previously ex-tenant B (of the same J&T tenancy)has withheld rent, I should have counter-claimed on the above compensation case but I didn't understand the process. Now a bit wiser I feel like suing tenant A as I know they have money and have peeved me somewhat.

            Comment


            • #7
              First: what do you understand by the phrase 'joint and several'? Do tell.
              JEFFREY SHAW, solicitor [and Topic Expert], Nether Edge Law*
              1. Public advice is believed accurate, but I accept no legal responsibility except to direct-paying private clients.
              2. Telephone advice: see http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?t=34638.
              3. For paid advice about conveyancing/leaseholds/L&T, contact me* and become a private client.
              4. *- Contact info: click on my name (blue-highlight link).

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by jeffrey View Post
                First: what do you understand by the phrase 'joint and several'? Do tell.

                Ummm I don't really understand, I guess I feel that it must be a bit naughty to pursue one of the tenants just because they have irritated me..
                Having just been court today with tenant A and her parent I feel sure that when/if I go to court again with Tenant A and her parent then they will raise this previous case and claim that I am perusing them out of vengeance..


                What was I supposed to answer?

                Comment


                • #9
                  That 'peruse' does not mean 'pursue'?! Seriously, I urge you to learn more about the 'joint and several' concept. If you can't or won't, stop acting for yourself and engage someone else professional who can or will.
                  JEFFREY SHAW, solicitor [and Topic Expert], Nether Edge Law*
                  1. Public advice is believed accurate, but I accept no legal responsibility except to direct-paying private clients.
                  2. Telephone advice: see http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?t=34638.
                  3. For paid advice about conveyancing/leaseholds/L&T, contact me* and become a private client.
                  4. *- Contact info: click on my name (blue-highlight link).

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by jeffrey View Post
                    That 'peruse' does not mean 'pursue'?! Seriously, I urge you to learn more about the 'joint and several' concept. If you can't or won't, stop acting for yourself and engage someone else professional who can or will.
                    Sorry poor spelling, funny when writing with a pen I spell perfectly..
                    Thanks for your advise. I think I do understand the concept, joint means everyone and severally means any of them individually. It's the application of that concept I am unsure about. So I can just go ahead an start chasing tenant A without fear of losing because of my vengeance issues?
                    I represented myself successfully today, but only after much searching of these pages and others.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Read all about it here: http://encyclopedia.thefreedictionar...eral+liability
                      JEFFREY SHAW, solicitor [and Topic Expert], Nether Edge Law*
                      1. Public advice is believed accurate, but I accept no legal responsibility except to direct-paying private clients.
                      2. Telephone advice: see http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?t=34638.
                      3. For paid advice about conveyancing/leaseholds/L&T, contact me* and become a private client.
                      4. *- Contact info: click on my name (blue-highlight link).

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Is it time for a different regime to apply to student lettings?

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Lawcruncher View Post
                          Is it time for a different regime to apply to student lettings?
                          What did you have in mind?
                          'Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation fo the first link on one memorable day'. Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Lawcruncher View Post
                            Is it time for a different regime to apply to student lettings?
                            Why? They are no different to other adults, either of the same age or older; everyone has access to the same information regarding the law, whether they are in higher education or not. And arguably, students are better placed to research their legal liabilities, with free internet access and student housing advisors at their fingertips.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              The risk lies with the remaining tenants, or more likely their parents. Parents are in effect being asked to guarantee people they do not know. It cannot be easy to find a replacement mid-term because everyone is fixed up. It is not at all like trying to find a replacement in the "real world". If students drop for whatever reason out the risk should be with the landlord, or at most with the student who drops out or his parents.

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