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Joint tenants split up


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Dear forum

I would really appreciate any advice on my current situation:

- I have two tenants ( a couple) under 1 joint tenancy agreement for 6 months, the 6 mths fixed term is due to expire 29th of this month.

- I’ve just been informed by one of the tenants (T1) that the other tenant (T2) who pays all the bills and rent to me via standing order has suddenly left (after a sudden breakup) and moved into somewhere else. T2 has not informed me directly of this

- Rent is paid 1 month in advance by T2 via standing order, and all the rent to date has been paid on time. Rent has been paid upto 29th of this month, but judging by T2’s actions I doubt I will receive payment for the next month.

Neither tenant has formally handed in any notice.

The remaining tenant T1 has told me she ideally wants to stay in the house but cannot afford to do so alone. She has told me she is actively looking for a new housemate to share the costs. This seems the best solution for me, as I know it would be really difficult to find new tenants completely at this time of year. However I think realistically this is unlikely as she does not have anyone in mind. She has also told me she is also looking for other places to live…!

I don’t really know how to proceed. They have been good tenants

(so far) so I want to be fair to all parties, whilst still protecting my own interests.

I have some questions:-

1) If T1 wants to move out can she give 1 month notice now , or must she wait until the fixed term has expired before handing in her notice?

2) If she must wait until the fixed term has expired before giving notice, I will be due another month’s rent. I doubt this will be forthcoming from T2 (already left), although T1 seems willing to pay her share. Can I use T2’s share of the deposit to pay his share of the rent for this month?

3) Am I correct is saying that both T1 and T2 need to have both signed a written notice to leave if the notice is given before the fixed term has expired? Therefore, if T1 wants to give 1 month’s notice now, to leave on 8th Dec07, will T2 need to have signed the notice letter also? I have doubts as to how co-operative T2 will be.

4) What happens to utility and council tax payments (all of which T2 used to pay) in the meantime? As I presume T2 will have cancelled all his direct debits….

5) I am thinking of the possibility of trying to keep the remaining tenant until early Spring when it would be easier for me to find new tenants by offering her reduced rent for that period. Better for some rental income rather than an empty house!What kind of agreement do I need to draw up and will this automatically agreement replace the old one (with T1&T2?)

Sorry for the length of this post and many thanks in advance for answers and suggestions.

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The fact that the fixed agreement ends on the 29th puts you in a strong position and hopefully won't cause too many problems.

Generally if neither party has given notice then it would seem that a Tenancy is going to roll on to a periodic.

Without you being given notice then T1 &T2 are still jointly responsible for this until notice has been agreed. I'd attempt to contact T2 and explain this situation.

You have a few options here I think,

Option 1 ) You could draw up a notice yourself and get T1 & T2 to sign separately and let them both go on the 29th (this is dependant on the terms for notice in your AST, but this can be relaxed a bit) Then relet it.

Option 2) You could get notice off T2 and start a new agreement for T1 after the 29th making just T1 responsible for the rent, property, etc for the next fixed period.

Now if T1 is unable to afford the full asking rent and you feel you may struggle to find a new tenant then you have to decide whether it's worthwhile signing a new agreement at a reduced rental for the forseeable future. Remember here though that once you do this it may be difficult adding in another Tenant at a later date because you will need then to draw up a new agreement for a Joint Tenancy and start over again.

This way though could cause all sorts of problems so be very careful.

Have you approached local letting agents to see if they have any T's you could put in? You could do a deal here to maybe pay half the Tenant Find fee seeing as you've half filled the property yourself.

I'd be tempted to explain (and give 2 months notice) to T1 that if they can't meet the rental requirements they'll have to go. Sounds as though they are looking anyway so this shouldn't be a problem.

To answer your ?'s

1) Yes she can give notice now unless you have stated in the original AST that notice is required on 'rent due date'

2) No you can't use a deposit for rent payments, (if their agreement is due to end on the 29th then their initial agreement was set up in or around MAY time so the deposit should've been protected anyway) If you havent't protected it then you could be opening up a whole new can of worms here!!!!!!

3) Yes both Tenants need to give notice.

4) They are both still responsible regardless of who paid before.

5) See the response above, difficult one this but you would need to draw up a new agreement for T1 after the 29th.

My gut reaction would be to get rid and start looking for fresh new Tenants here!

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