Joint tenant not paying and potentially refusing to leave

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  • Joint tenant not paying and potentially refusing to leave

    Hi all,

    This is my first post here.

    I moved 6 months ago in a flat under a joint tenancy agreement with someone who was already living in the property. This is a fixed term contract valid until summer 2012 and with a 2 month break clause. The landlord wants to receive only one payment for the rent and hence I was paying the other tenant my share of the rent who was then paying the full rent to the landlord.

    The other co-tenant has not been paying the rent at all for 2 months (hence keeping my rent money). The landlord revealed it to my complete surprise a few weeks ago and threatened to repossess. I immediately chased the other co-tenant to inquire but it was radio silence. The co-tenant did not reappeared to the flat either since, and left all his belongings. After one week I gave termination notice to the landlord to stop any further damage and the landlord accepted the notice.

    However, after a few days I got an answer by email from the other tenant, claiming he was not aware of the situation and that he thought the money was paid from his account and this would have to be proved etc. In addition he claimed that he might have to move out of the flat in a couple of months from now to move overseas (which is after the 2 months notice I gave), and implied he would be back to the flat at one point but he still hasn't showed up. I am 100% sure that the rent was not paid and that the person is lying i.e. is perfectly aware of the situation. He hasn't paid any rent since either.

    One of my concerns relate to the termination notice: as the other tenant did not gave his notice and has not acknowledged the one I gave / also implies he wants to stay for a few more months, can he refuse to leave the property at the end of the 2 month termination notice I gave? or what if he leaves all his belongings in the flat?
    The co-tenant is not responding to any of my follow-up calls / messages and I believe he might be trying to stay in the flat without paying anything before moving overseas, as in any case I can't do much legally speaking and launching a full court procedure to get him out would take months and he would probably already be far at that time.

    I am really concerned by this situation and any help would be greatly appreciated.


  • #2
    Can you please clarify if your name appears on the same tenancy agreement as the 'existing' tenant?

    If not, how did your occupation begin, was it advertised by the landlord or by the tenant?


    • #3
      I am not on the initial "main" lease agreement but I signed a one page side agreement which states that I am replacing the previous tenant in the main lease agreement. This one page agreement is signed by both me and the 'existing' tenant.
      It was advertised by the tenant.


      • #4
        Normally an assignment requires the tenant that left to also sign the assignment as well as the landlord; and witnessed by independant person so it becomes a 'Deed' of assignmnet. Whether that sheet of paper binds you legally as a co-tenant is questionable. It could be that you are the original tenants lodger, in which case you would be free to leave and let the LL deal with the original tenant.

        You need legal advice about whether this document is binding. Try citizen's advice first if you are short of cash or a solicitor who knows what he is talking about.
        All posts in good faith, but do not rely on them

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        • #5
          Thanks for your reply.
          The document is as you describe i.e. signed by witness, landlord and exiting tenant hence I am bound by the contract (I saw a solicitor).

          Regarding the break clause that I have exercised, do you think this is valid that both tenants would have to leave the flat i.e. would apply to the other co-tenant though he did not gave his notice as well?


          • #6
            Can you give us the EXACT wording of the break clause - they can often not be exercised unilaterally.


            • #7
              Thanks. the wording is as follows:

              "It is agreed that The Tenant may terminate this agreement at anytime by giving to the Landlord two month prior written notice and upon expiry the tenancy will determine absolute. Any such determination pursuant to the provisions of this clause shall be without prejudice to the claim or either party against the other in respect of any antecedent breach or non-observance of this agreement."


              • #8
                I don't think that allows YOU to terminate the agreement without your co-tenants co-operation.

                You see, very confusingly, "The tenant" is a legal entity (like "company"), which comprises of all the joint tenants together, basically, your co-tenant has a tenancy contract until date X and you can not remove that right.

                It is diferent in a periodic tenancy because there is no contract and the law specfically provides that any one tenant may give notice on behalf of "The tenant".

                IMHO, your only recourse is to sue your co-tenant for any rent he owes you, or anything above your 'share' that the landlord forces you to pay.


                • #9
                  Thank you very much, this is helpful.
                  If I sue him, do you know if I could obtain a court order for him to exit the property (as obviously he is not paying the rent)?
                  In addition, do you know how long is the procedure to sue someone i.e. for him to be put in front of the judge? If it takes several months it is not going to make things easier.


                  • #10
                    I don't think so, there seems to be no provision for a tenant to evict his co-tenant,
                    I offer no guarantee that anything I say is correct. wysiwyg


                    • #11
                      A 'small claim' is likely to be several months from start to finish. Worth bearing in mind that even if the court says he MUST pay you £x, if he hasn't got it, he cn't be made to pay it (blood/stone).

                      Only the landlord can evict a tenant.

                      This isn't a critisism, and again may be confusing, but so far as the tenancy agreement is concerned, 'the tenant' isn't paying the rent, and that includes you as you are both liable for the full rent. If the landlord were to evict, he has to evict 'both' of you. I appreciate that wouldn't be an issue for you right now, but worth bearing in mind for future joint tenancies.


                      • #12
                        Given that I have given my notice for my "part" and the landlord accepted it, what happens if I leave the premises after the 2 months period but the other tenant stays in? Do you know if I shall be made liable for any further costs or does my liability for further rent stops after the notice period I gave?


                        • #13
                          If you have the landlords acceptance in writing I think you could successfuly argue that the landlord has accepted your surrender of the tenancy and so your obligation ends there. It is a bit touch and go though.

                          If you are on good terms ith the landlord, it may be a good idea to ask for a 'to whom it may concern' reference (supposedly for a flat-hunt) to state that you are up to date with all payments (and what a wonderful tenant you are etc etc). If there are any disputes in future you can wave that as evidence.


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