If you need to leave a joint tenancy, make sure you discuss the situation with the other tenants. Your actions directly affect them.
Check if you're a joint tenant
You'll have a joint tenancy if there's more than one named tenant on your agreement.
Your landlord can hold all of you responsible for any rent arrears or damage caused by you or any of the other joint tenants.
This is called joint and several liability.
Leaving a joint fixed term tenancy early
All joint tenants must be in agreement to end a fixed term tenancy early. If you all agree, together you could either:
- use a break clause to give notice
- negotiate with the landlord to end it early
If you can't do this, your tenancy won't legally end and you may still be pursued for rent if you leave.
At the end of the fixed term contract
The end of a fixed term contract won't always mean that your tenancy and rental liability ends, even if you move out.
If you all leave by the last day of the fixed term
If all joint tenants leave by the last day of the fixed term contract, this usually means that the tenancy and rental liability ends for everyone.
Check your agreement for any terms about giving notice to leave when the fixed term ends.
If some tenants want to stay
Even if you no longer live in the property, you can still be liable for rent until the tenancy is legally ended.
The tenancy will automatically continue as a periodic tenancy if some tenants stay on after the fixed term ends, even if other joint tenants have moved out.
If this happens you should try and get the remaining tenants to sign a new fixed term agreement with the landlord that doesn't include you.
If you are the one staying you may be able to claim universal credit to get help with your rent if you’re on a low income.
Finding a replacement tenant can be a good option if you want to leave but other tenants want to stay.
Your landlord and all joint tenants need to agree before any new tenants can move in.
If a replacement tenant is going to move in, make sure they sign a new agreement with the tenants who are staying on.
Ending a joint periodic tenancy
You can serve a notice to end the tenancy. You don't need permission from the other tenants.
When the notice ends, the tenancy and the right to live in the property will end for all tenants.
Any tenants who want to stay on at the property need to try and arrange a new tenancy agreement with the landlord.
If you have a joint tenancy agreement with more than 4 named tenants, your rights to serve a notice could be different.
Get help from a Shelter adviser if you're in this situation.
Problems with other joint tenants
Your fixed term contract is binding and can only be ended if all tenants are in agreement. This means you:
- can’t remove the name of someone who has left from the contract
- can’t force someone to leave
- can’t be forced to leave by another tenant
- are liable for rent until the contract ends
Your landlord can't remove names or force tenants to leave either. They can only try and end the tenancy for everyone by following the correct eviction process.
You can still move out of the property but you will remain liable for rent as long as the tenancy continues.
If you are struggling with rent and have a good relationship with your landlord you could talk to them. They may agree a rent reduction or other compromise.
If you're at risk of violence you may be considered legally homeless and be able to get help from the council.
If you split up with your partner during your joint tenancy and decide you don't want to live together anymore, you should end your tenancy properly.
Last updated 23 Aug 2019 | © Shelter
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