Tenancy Management

Forum Spotlight: Tenant leaving early on a joint and several AST

Victoria Barker
Written by Victoria Barker

A member posted on our forum this week, asking what to do about a tenant who wanted to leave a joint tenancy agreement early.

Their two tenants, Betty and Susan* are on a two year joint and several AST, and there is a one year break clause which states that  after 21 July 2017 either landlord or tenants may give not less than two months notice to end the agreement.

In accordance with this, Susan gave notice that she planned to leave the tenancy on the 8th January 2017. The remaining tenant, Betty, wants to stay in the flat and the letting agent is keen that she does as both have been model tenants. However, Betty is unable to afford the whole rent herself.

In addition to this, the tenant who wishes to leave, Susan has named her mother as a guarantor of the rent.

The letting agent had several questions for our forum members relating to the situation:

  • Does the AST end for Susan?
  • Is Betty responsible for paying all of the rent once Susan has left the property?
  • Since Susan’s mother is a guarantor, when is she released from this?
  • What are the next steps to take?
The solution

After several of our forum users offered advice to this particular landlord,  an advisor from our landlord advice team then stepped in.

In respect of the AST, our advisor was able to confirm that even though Susan has given written notice to leave the property, the AST ends for both Susan and Betty. This means that if the member chooses to allow Betty to stay at the property, Betty will be responsible for paying all of the rent going forward.

If the landlord accepts the early surrender of the tenancy, then Susan’s mother will be released from her garuntee.

What the law says

When one party on a joint tenancy gives notice, this in fact ends the tenancy for both parties, if a landlord chooses to accept this early surrender. The leaving tenants’ guarantor can not be held liable, after the tenant has been allowed to leave early.

If a landlord is not willing to accept the notice the leaving tenant/guarantor remains liable for the full term.

If allowing the tenant to leave early, and landlord must ensure that they have a valid Notice To Quit (NQT) and a new agreement needs to be drawn up for the remaining tenant and the new tenant.

Both tenants should be treated as new tenants with regard to serving deposit paperwork, copies of a valid gas safety certificate, the EPC certificate and the latest edition of the Government’s How to Rent guide.

The landlord should ensure that they have a signature for all of these documents to prove that the tenants did receive these at the start of the tenancy.

Find out more
  • Read the original Forum Post here
  • The RLA has updated its AST pages, which can be accessed on our website here

* names have been changed

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.

1 Comment

  • This is always a difficult area for sharers. As an industry trainer I cover this problem in workshops. The text below has been used regularly…..

    “If the tenancy was fixed term and included a break clause, which was invoked by only some of the sharers then the notice is invalid. If one, or some of the sharers wish to stay, then all are bound to the contractual obligations of the tenancy, including payment of rent, for the full fixed term. Tenants cannot be forced to leave by joint tenants part way through a fixed term tenancy. (London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham v Monk.)

    If one tenant does change, and a new agreement is entered into, consider the problems of the inventory and assessment of damage at the end of the tenancy. Consider include a clause within the agreement stating that damage will be assessed, upon the information contained in the inventory drawn up at the time of the initial tenancy; and it is up to the tenants to check the inventory at the time of the change over and to make arrangements for compensation from the outgoing person. A copy of the inventory drawn up at the start of the first tenancy should be sent to the sharers to help them assess any compensation required between them.

    At the end of a fixed term if one tenant wishes to stay, but the other tenant wants to leave, then the tenant who leaves has no further obligations to the landlord. Effectively a new tenancy is created with the remaining tenant.”

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