It often happens. You enthusiastically sign up to rent a shared house with friends, but then have second thoughts. Maybe your plans change and you need to live elsewhere. Or maybe it’s that really can’t put up with your co-tenants’ irritating mannerisms or low personal hygiene standards.
However there is a problem. There is no cooling off period for tenancy agreements. If you have signed the tenancy agreement you are legally bound by it.
This means that you are legally liable to the landlord, together with your co-tenants, for the payment of rent on a monthly basis, until the end of the fixed term or (if the tenancy runs on) until either the landlord gets vacant possession or a new tenancy agreement is signed. One without you.
Moving out will not prevent you from being liable under the tenancy. The landlord can still sue you for rent arrears, even if you moved out months ago.
What can you do to protect your position?
The only real way you can get yourself off the hook is to get a new tenancy agreement signed. If your co-tenants are happy (or can afford) to live in the property without you, see if you can get a new tenancy agreement signed just with them named as tenants.
Otherwise, if they need someone else to help them pay the rent, you need to find a replacement tenant, and then make sure that they are signed up to a tenancy agreement in your place.
But note the following
- The landlord will normally want to reference the new tenant – and he will expect you to pay for this
- You may also have to pay for a new tenancy agreement to be drawn up
- You will also need to deal with the tenancy deposit – make sure the tenancy deposit scheme knows of the change of tenants and try to get your share either from the incoming tenant or from the landlord
- If you have been there a while, the landlord may want the property checked by the inventory clerks before repaying your deposit. The incoming tenant may also want this, so he does not get blamed for damage done before he moved in. You will be expected to pay the inventory clerks fees
As you can see, it is all a bit of a bother, and can be expensive.
Far better in the long run to be more cautious about signing that tenancy agreement in the first place, and only sign up to share with friends if you are certain you will not regret it.
Note – if you have other problems about your shared property, there is a lot of help and advice on my main Landlord Law site.