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View Full Version : Obligations beyond 6 months in a joint tenancy when one tenant gives notice



Ruky78
01-02-2011, 13:18 PM
Hi
I am currently am on a joint tenancy in a property with one other. The contract started on the 1st October 2010 till the 30th Sept 2011. There is a 6 month break clause, I have given notice to end the contract after 6 months, which has been accepted by the landlady and my leave date is 31st March 2011. The other tenant has chosen to stay on at the flat.

I understand that once I leave, the other tenant who is choosing to stay on will be liable for full rent and bills until she finds a replacement, I think the chances of her being able to afford that is slim.

My question is beyond the date of 31st March, which is my confirmed leave date, am I still liable for the rent or bills on this property in any circumstance?. For example if a replacement for me is not found, the current tenant cannot afford to pay bills and rent, can the landlady still come after me for this, even if I have given notice and left the property?. Below of the notice provision in the contract

NOTICE PROVISION: It is agreed that after six months notice can be given to quit by either party. The notice must be served prior to the end of the sixth month in writing with a notice period of 60 days.

thesaint
01-02-2011, 13:21 PM
What has the landlady said?

Ruky78
01-02-2011, 13:32 PM
This is the email I got that summarises it the best. She hasn't at this stage, said that I can only move out if I find a replacement, she has said that I can move out earlier if I find a replacement. I have changed the names to "leaving tenant" and "remaining" tenant. But otherwise wording is the same

Dear "tenants"

I thought it best to email you both in respect of the Tenancy Agreement and "leaving tenant" looking to leave the property on 31 March 2011 or before subject to a replacement being found.

As you will be aware the Tenancy Agreement is a joint Tenancy Agreement where both parties is liable for the total rent being paid each month.

In order to end a tenancy both parties are required to give notice within the notice period in order to allow the landlord to find suitable replacements. However it is possible for one of the tenants to give notice as long as a suitable replacement is found to continue the tenancy.

In this case "leaving tenant" can give notice to leave the property subject to a suitable replacement being found. If this is not done by the required date then that would leave "remaining tenant" responsible for total rent due each month.

Once a replacement for "leaving tenant" has been found, "assigned letting agent" can carryout all the necessary paperwork such as amending the agreement and referencing a new tenant. The "new" tenant will be responsible for this fee as standard.

I hope this helps clarifies the situation for all parties. However if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Regards

xxxxxx xxxxxx

Interlaken
01-02-2011, 13:36 PM
When you took on the tenancy joint tenant would be held jointly and severally so if one of you leaves the agreement will have to be cancelled. I can't see how there is an obligation on you to find a replaement - did you actually sign up to that?

Ruky78
01-02-2011, 13:43 PM
I didnt sign up for that, I am just trying to be helpful!. I said I would try and find a replacement for me, up until leave date, as the other tenant wants to remain in the property.

My question was really about one thing. I heard that as it is a joint tenancy, both tenants would have to give notice, for notice to be valid. Given that the contract is actually for 12 months although there is that 6 month break clause, which I have taken advantage of. I was just worried that although my landlady appears to have accepted my notice. Does me, on my own giving notice effectively bring the contract to an end, and I am no longer liable for any rent or bills beyond that date, even if the other tenant choses to stay on.

Interlaken
01-02-2011, 13:51 PM
Don't be helpful. How do you know the person you select will be suitable for your flatmate or partner? Aagh!

You are right that both of you will have to give notice to end the agreement otherwise legally you will still be liable for the rent etc. I suspect LL is trying damage limitation to avoid using agent to get new tenants with added costs.

If other tenant wants to stay on she/he needs to find other suitable tenant willing to enter into a new AST.

Ruky78
01-02-2011, 13:56 PM
Well the other tenant seems to be happy with me looking, its my interests to find someone as it means if I do secure someone I can leave the property earlier. When it gets closer to the leave date, she will take on that responsbility, it is something have agreed informally.

So just to clarify your second point which is the point that is most important to me, me giving my notice, is not legally valid unless the tenant gives notice as well?. This means that actually if a replacement is not found I am still liable for rent and bills?.

Thats really the point I am trying to get clarification, as I have also read in other threads that in a joint tenancy, one tenant can end a contract.

Interlaken
01-02-2011, 14:07 PM
Yes contract can be ended by one tenant but even if you find a replacement for yourself a new contract will have to be started and the old one ended. Otherwise if new T decides not to pay rent you are still liable.

So present contract has to be ended and new one started with replacement tenant.

Ruky78
01-02-2011, 14:30 PM
ok thanks...so just to clarify finally.

By giving my notice, through the 6 month break clause, and having it accepted by the landlady I have now effectively ended the contract and beyond the 31st of March after I have left the property, I will no longer be liable for bills and rent?.

jjlandlord
01-02-2011, 14:37 PM
Yes contract can be ended by one tenant

If doing so by using the break clause, it will very much depends on its wording: It may not allow only one tenant to give notice.

Currently the landlady does not seem to have accepted the notice.

Ruky78
01-02-2011, 14:39 PM
The wording was in my first post it read as follows:
NOTICE PROVISION: It is agreed that after six months notice can be given to quit by either party. The notice must be served prior to the end of the sixth month in writing with a notice period of 60 days.

The landlady hasnt really said anything to suggest she didnt accept my notice, the moment I emailed her, she sent an email engaging an agency to look for my replacement.

jjlandlord
01-02-2011, 14:47 PM
The wording was in my first post it read as follows:
NOTICE PROVISION: It is agreed that after six months notice can be given to quit by either party. The notice must be served prior to the end of the sixth month in writing with a notice period of 60 days.

And it was in bold! I must be bold-blind ;-)
As a party, the 'tenant' is jointly you and the other tenant. So not obvious to me if only one of you may give notice.


The landlady hasnt really said anything to suggest she didnt accept my notice, the moment I emailed her, she sent an email engaging an agency to look for my replacement.

She said that notice should be served by both tenants but that she would accept that your liability ends if another tenant is found.
Ie. she is not accepting notice under the break clause and you're liability will end only when a suitable new tenant moves in. At that point the current agreement should end and a new one should be drawn in the name of the tenants, this includes refunding the deposit and taking a new one from the new tenants.

Ruky78
01-02-2011, 14:54 PM
ok thank you

what she actually wrote in the email is that after the 31st of March, the existing tenant would be responsible of all rent, unless a replacement is found.

Which to me reads that she considers me no longer liable for rent beyond that date. Wishful thinking on my part?.

jjlandlord
01-02-2011, 14:59 PM
what she actually wrote in the email is that after the 31st of March, the existing tenant would be responsible of all rent, unless a replacement is found.

She said that. But assuming that the remaining tenant cannot pay she may 'remember' that you are still legally the tenant and comes after you.
There is also the deposit (if any) issue.

Ruky78
03-02-2011, 13:11 PM
Hello

I just thought I would share with you the advice I have from the Citizens Advice Bureau on this matter

If you exercise a break option in your lease, then provided your rent is paid up to the break date, you have no further obligations to the landlord after that date (see below). You may also need to check with your flatmate that you have paid your share of all the bills.

It is then up to your flatmate to make a new agreement with the landlord if he or she wishes to stay.

On a break date, one joint tenant can give notice to the landlord that brings the whole tenancy to an end without the consent of the other joint tenant(s). Many people think this rule is very unfair, but attempts to get it changed have been rejected by the courts. If you want to end a joint tenancy at any other time before the end of the fixed term, this requires the consent of all joint tenants and the landlord.

We hope this puts the position beyond doubt.

Snorkerz
03-02-2011, 13:29 PM
Personally, I disagree with CAB.

Sure, any individual 'tenant' may end a tenancy agreement at it's end, or once it is outside it's fixed term, statute has no bearing on 'break clauses'. A break clause is a contractual issue, and decisions can only be made as to it's meaning by reference to the clause itself, or by a court decision.

I also think there is some confusion in the OPs (and possibly landlords) eyes.

"Tenant" is indeed either Ruky78 or his flatmate
"The Tenant" on the otherhand is both Ruky78 and his flatmate.

westminster
03-02-2011, 13:53 PM
Below of the notice provision in the contract

NOTICE PROVISION: It is agreed that after six months notice can be given to quit by either party. The notice must be served prior to the end of the sixth month in writing with a notice period of 60 days.

I also think CAB's advice is wrong.

Either party = either landlord or tenant. The tenant = Ruky78 + his flatmate.

Both joint tenants must give notice in order to exercise the break clause, failing which, the joint tenancy continues with both JTs jointly and individually liable for all of the rent for the remainder of the fixed term.


* * * * *

And what on earth does CAB mean by "....If you want to end a joint tenancy at any other time before the end of the fixed term, this requires the consent of all joint tenants and the landlord"? Are they referring to a surrender? If so, what's the point if they believe that the break clause is exercisable by only one joint tenant?

And this bit - "Many people think this rule is very unfair, but attempts to get it changed have been rejected by the courts" - again, no idea what "rule" they are referring to, or what attempts have been made to "get it changed" (how could a rule be changed by a court - ? - courts don't make the rules, they interpret them).

"We hope this puts the position beyond doubt." [insert rollseyes emoticon]

jjlandlord
03-02-2011, 13:59 PM
Either party = either landlord or tenant. The tenant = Ruky78 + his flatmate.

My thinking as well.