Campaigns Helpful Tips Tenancy Management

Forum Spotlight: Joint Tenancies-one tenant wants to leave and one wants to stay

Victoria Barker
Written by Victoria Barker

A landlord posted a question on our Forum recently about joint tenancies.

The landlord was faced with a dilemma when it comes to their tenants who are on a joint tenancy.

The assured short-hold tenancy started on 1st October 2017, and the tenants were now in a contractual periodic tenancy.

The tenants were a couple and they were splitting up. The landlord had served notice for the contractual period tenancy to end at the end of the month.

One of them had already moved out and was in a new property, however the other wanted to stay, as a sole tenant.

The landlord wanted to understand how they should treat the remaining tenant, and they wanted to know what their options were when it comes to possibly reissuing an AST.

Response from the Landlord Advice Team

Our Landlord Advice Team responded by saying that this landlord had several options in this scenario.

The first option for this landlord would be for the landlord if possible to get both of the tenants to sign a tenants notice of leaving, and to then return the keys and deal with the deposit for any amount owed.

The other option would be for this landlord to get one of the tenants to serve notice in line with the agreement and to provide one month’s notice, but during that one month’s notice the landlord will need to tell the tenant who is still occupying the property to either find a replacement tenant or vacate the property.

It’s important for this landlord to note that once notice has expired they will not be able to accept rent from the person who remains as they will create a new tenancy known as a contractual periodic tenancy.

To prevent themselves from suffering any financial loss they will need to complete two forms: N5 and N119.

On the forms, they will need to state the person who remains as a licensee. On the court form N119 they can apply to the courts for what is called ‘MESNE profits’.

This stops the landlord from suffering from a financial loss as a result of being unable to accept rent once the one month’s notice has expired.

The final option is to get both tenants to sign a tenants notice of leaving and then to place the person who remains into a sole contract.

Learn more

About the author

Victoria Barker

Victoria Barker

Victoria is the Communications Officer for the RLA.

She is responsible for producing articles for our Campaigns and News Centre, the weekly E-News newsletter and media review, and creating social media content. She also contributes to our members magazine, Residential Property Investor.


  • What will happen if one Tenant leaves as the couple splits up and the 2nd Tenant wants to stay?
    If no official notice is given then the AST stands as it is regardless of where either party is living.
    Surely while the Tenancy agreement is still in force, like I just described, then both Tenants are still liable for the rent and if one defaults the other could be pursued?

    • As a general rule where one tenant leaves and the other stays you will encounter three situations depending on your tenants

      1) If the break up is amicable and both partners are communicating with you then have them both confirm the end of the tenancy in writing. Then provide a new tenancy agreement, protect the deposit, give all the prescribed information, etc to the one remaining tenant as it is a brand new tenancy.
      2) If the break is not amicable and one tenant simply runs off without serving notice, then the tenancy will continue until a valid notice is served. As such both tenants are liable for the rent and any damages from breaching the contract that may occur until such time as a valid notice is served. Tenants on some form of housing benefit are likely to encounter issues with payment at this stage as their tenancy will not be exclusively in their name.
      3) Where the outgoing tenant serves a valid notice in the periodic portion of their tenancy, then this will bring the tenancy to an end. The landlord here should impress upon the remaining tenant that they either must sign a new tenancy agreement (subject to the usual credit checks, etc) or leave on the last day of the notice. If they do not then landlords may apply to court for possession.

      James Wood
      Landlord Advice Team

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.