Here is a question to the blog clinic from Alan (not his real name) who is a tenant
I have a 12-month joint fixed-term tenancy for a 2 bedroom flat with one other which started seven months ago. Prior to this, I was the sole tenant in the same flat for two years.
Unfortunately, the relationship between me and my co-tenant has broken down irreparably. We agree that we shouldn’t live together.
I want to continue to live in the flat. I work locally and the flat is entirely furnished by my belongings. I have said this in writing to both my co-tenant and landlady (I have not told the landlady about my difficulties with the co-tenant).
My landlady has said to me in writing that she would be happy to sign a new tenancy with me as a sole tenant again once the current agreement comes to an end and that this would be her preference.
My co-tenant has since informed me she intends to stay in the flat for the next nine months or so on what I assume would be a periodic tenancy and has said she will exercise her legal rights to ensure this happens.
Attempting to surrender the tenancy early is not at all an option.
As I understand it there are, therefore 3 main options here:
1) I stick it out on a periodic tenancy until my co-tenant decides to move out and then sign a new fixed-term tenancy with my landlady
2) The landlady evicts us both in order to get the co-tenant out then I sign a new tenancy with my landlady
3) I move out at the end of the fixed term tenancy. My worry here is that I would remain jointly liable for rent if my current co-tenant opts to stay on a periodic tenancy
Any advice would be gratefully received.
This is a difficult situation which is probably not uncommon. From your point of view, it would have been better had your co-tenant never gone on the tenancy agreement in the first place. Then you would be able to evict her yourself quite easily.
Landlords tend to want all adults living in the property to go on the tenancy agreement though, and this may be what happened here.
Let’s take a look at your options but I will take them in reverse order:
3. You moving out at the end of the fixed term
If you serve a notice to quit after the tenancy ends, then this will end the tenancy for everyone and so long as you move out before the notice period ends, you will not be liable for anything.
We have a guide for tenants wanting to serve a Notice to Quit here.
If your co-tenant remains in the property she may become liable for double rent too. However, you can only do this once the fixed term has ended.
2. Getting the landlord to evict then moving back in afterwards
This is certainly possible and when I practised as a solicitor, I once brought possession proceedings precisely for this purpose.
From your point of view this is the best option – but from the landlord’s point of view, why should she pay for possession proceedings just because you and your co-tenant can’t get on?
I doubt she would be willing to do anything unless you paid for all the costs. Even then it will be a bother for her which she will not want.
1. You moving out at the end of the fixed term
This is the easiest and probably the best option all round. Assuming your co-tenant actually moves out. She is more likely to do this if you help her – for example, you could offer to help with the cost.
There are other ‘family law’ options but things like getting ‘ouster’ injunctions only apply where a partner is violent. I doubt they would help you.
This just goes to show that you need to be really careful about who you share your property with, particularly if you are going to be joint tenants under a tenancy agreement.