Here is a question to the blog clinic fast track from Kathryn who is a tenant
Four of us signed a tenancy agreement in December after 8 days 2 of us moved out due to unreconcilable differences. We informed the agents of this and continued to pay a portion of the rent. We were instructed to pay this into the lead tenants account.
About three months later we were phoned by the agents asking if we knew the whereabouts of the two who were still in the property. We were then told that they had absconded with 2 months rent unpaid.
The landlords have seized a van and refuse to release it unless we sign a second agreement taking ownership of the debt. The other two have gone to France and left us with this debt and a possible court action.
I have good news and bad news for you.
The bad news – your liability for the rent
The bad news is that if you all signed the same tenancy agreement you are all liable for the rent.
It is knowns as ‘joint and several liability’ which means that your landlord can sue all of you or just one of you for the arrears.
So if Matthew, Mark, Luke and John all sign a tenancy together at £400 pcm and Matthew and Mark don’t pay their rent – it is up to the landlord whether he sues just Matthew and Mark, all of them together, or he could even sue just John if he wanted.
The fact that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John had agreed to pay £100 each will not affect their liability to the landlord for the whole lot.
This is why it is so important that tenants only sign a tenancy agreement with people they know and trust.
The good news – the van
The good news is that your landlord is not entitled to seize the van. In some situations, people who are owed money are entitled to what is called a ‘lien’ over the debtor’s goods.
- So, hoteliers have a lien over their guest’s possessions if they don’t pay their hotel bill, and
- Agents have a lien over their principal’s property if they don’t pay the agent’s commission
However, it is established that landlords do NOT have a lien over tenants property if they don’t pay their rent. So your landlord is acting illegally.
But bad news overall
The bad news overall though is that your landlord does not need to size the van as you are both liable to him for the unpaid rent anyway now, you don’t need to sign a new agreement. Sorry.