Lots of people share rented property. Maybe you do. Here are five things you may not have realised:
1. All of the tenants are collectively ‘the tenant’
This means that they are generally dealt with as a group rather than individually. For example
2. All tenants are liable for all the rent jointly
So if you have Ann, Belinda, Caroline and Doreen all sharing a flat together, if Doreen fails to pay her share of the rent, the other three can all be sued by the landlord for the total outstanding. Even though they may have paid their share. Also
3. All tenants are liable for all the rent severally
This means that if he wants to, the landlord can sue just Ann for the unpaid rent, even though it was Doreen who failed to pay. He might do this for example if he knows that Ann is well off and has a job where a CCJ would be embarrassing, whereas Doreen is unemployed and already has several CCJs so one more would not bother her.
4. One of joint tenants can end a tenancy by Notice to Quit
This is part of the ‘all tenants are one’ rule, so if one tenant gives notice it affects all of the other tenants. Note that this can only be done after the fixed term has ended, as a Notice to Quit will not end the fixed term.
Local Authorities often use this as a way to get a violent partner out of their council house, after the other partner has left – the wife (it is generally the wife) will give a notice to quit, which will end the tenancy for both parties, allowing the LA to evict the remaining partner. However this is of less use to joint tenants in the private sector wanting to leave than you might image, because
5. All tenants are responsible for the rent until the tenancy has ended and the landlord has vacant possession
So if Belinda wants to end her liability and serves a notice to quit, this will work if ALL the tenants then leave (assuming the notice was properly drafted and was served after the fixed term had ended). However if Ann, Caroline and Doreen all stay on, then the landlord will still be entitled to his rent, as he has not got vacant possession of his property. Unlike the Local Authority in the example above, he probably won’t want to to go to court to evict anyone.
My understanding is that Belinda will remain liable for the rent in this situation along with the others, until such time as they all move out or a new tenancy agreement is signed (without Belinda). However if anyone has any legal authority to the contrary, please leave a comment.
Tenants will find more help and guidance on my main Landlord Law site.