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Can the landlord claim rent arrears from a tenant who has moved out?

flatsHere is a question to the blog clinic from Glyn, who is a tenant:

I was recently evicted from property for rent arrears, which is not my question as I acted pretty badly and accept that.

But, it was a joint tenancy with my ex partner. She moved out before the rent arrears were accrued and the landlord was fully aware of this. We informed the agent for the landlord in writing and the landlord via email. A new tenancy was drafted to reflect the fact my step sister was going to move in, but was never signed and another tenancy was not drawn up to reflect me living in the property alone.

Once the eviction process began, I again informed the landlord in writing and via email that my ex partner had vacated some time ago, but she was still named on the claim form and they are still pursuing her for the rent arrears.

My question is, are they able to do this and surely it should not be allowed as we informed the landlord of her vacating the property a long time before the rent arrears?

I am afraid the answer to this is ‘yes’.

A tenant’s liability under a tenancy agreement is not dependant upon whether they are living in the property or not.  The tenant is liable because he or she has signed a tenancy, a legally binding agreement, to pay rent.

This will only end if:

  • The landlord signs a new tenancy agreement which does not include the outgoing tenant (in which case they will only be liable for rent up to the time the new agreement starts)
  • The tenancy is ended by a court order (eg evicting the tenants) in which case the rent will be due up to the date the remaining tenant is evicted, or
  • If the tenant serves a formal ‘notice to quit’ on the landlord.  This will end the tenancy and the tenants liability under it, but this can only be done after the end of the fixed term.

So from what you say, it looks as if your partner will be liable.

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3 Responses to Can the landlord claim rent arrears from a tenant who has moved out?

  1. I asked the original question. Thanks for the advice.

    But, surely informing the landlord in writing would constitute notice of my ex partner quitting the property. And, the fact that they then drew up a new tenancy to reflect her having vacated the property and someone else moving in. This tenancy was not actually signed as the person decided not to move in. I suppose my argument or point is, that numerous times they accepted my ex partner had vacated the property and are now pursuing her for arrears that were accrued in her absence. After doing all that our landlord asked us to do by putting it in writing.

    It seems she is being penalised, even though she did as the landlord instructed and the rent arrears were not her fault at all?

  2. If the notice was sent to the landlord AFTER the fixed term ended, then it it would have ended it. As one of joint tenants can end a periodic tenancy by notice to quit.

    However you cannot end a fixed term tenancy by a notice to quit. It can be ended by a new tenancy taking its place, but as you say, here the new tenancy was never signed and so never came into effect.

    So the answer will really depend on when the notice was served. Before or after the end of the fixed term.

  3. It was a 6 month AST and the fixed term had ended some months before and had moved to a periodic tenancy.

    I do appreciate your advice by the way. Thank you!



About the post author:

Tessa Shepperson

Tessa is a lawyer and specialises in creating products and services which help landlords and letting agents learn and understand landlord & tenant law. For example, she runs the Landlord Law website (now in its 14th year) and is a director of Easy Law Training Ltd and Your Law Store. Tessa also sits on the Property Redress Scheme Council. When not working she enjoys reading, cooking and messing around on the computer. You can also find her on Google

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Tessa is an English lawyer specialising in residential landlord and tenant law.

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