Joint tenancies

Joint tenants are equally responsible for paying the rent. Only sign up to a joint tenancy if you are confident the other tenants will pay their rent.

3 things you need to know before taking on a joint tenancy

Our adviser Jayne explains what you need to know before you sign a joint tenancy agreement.

What is a joint tenancy?

You have a joint tenancy if you and the other tenants all signed a single tenancy agreement with a landlord when you moved in.

If your tenancy agreement has other named tenants on it then it will be a joint tenancy. 

Use Shelter's tenancy checker to check what type of tenancy you have.

What can you be asked to pay for?

You have joint responsibilities in a joint tenancy. 

Your landlord can hold you responsible for:

  • rent arrears caused by yourself or the other joint tenants
  • damage to the property caused by any of the tenants or their visitors  

This is called joint and several liability.


You must pay your share of the rent but if another tenant doesn't pay, the landlord can ask any of you to make up the shortfall.


You are jointly responsible for taking care of the property including communal areas. 

Tenancy deposits

Your landlord may ask for a single tenancy deposit and can use this to cover things like damage or unpaid rent at the end of the tenancy.

If you replace another tenant in an existing joint tenancy, you should usually pay your share of the deposit to the landlord or agent, not to the outgoing tenant. 

Find out how to get your deposit back

Ending a joint tenancy

It's a good idea to discuss your plans with the other tenants if you want to leave. Your actions will directly affect them.

Find out how to end a joint assured shorthold tenancy. Most private renters have this type of tenancy.

Relationship breakdown

If you have a joint tenancy with a partner or ex-partner but your relationship has ended, you'll need to discuss what happens to the tenancy.

If you end the joint tenancy legally

Your landlord could grant you a new tenancy in your name only.

They don't have to offer you a new tenancy so ask to sign a new agreement before taking steps to end your existing tenancy.  

If you're given a new tenancy in the same property, this won't prevent your ex having legal rights to live in the home if:

  • you're still married or in a civil partnership
  • you shared the home as a married couple or civil partners

Your ex-partner's right to live there will end if you divorce or dissolve the civil partnership.

If you don't end the joint tenancy

You both remain jointly responsible for the rent even if one of you moves out.

In practice, the person who moves out often stops paying.

You may be able to claim universal credit to help with your rent if you're on a low income.  

Domestic abuse

If you're experiencing domestic abuse, you may need to:

  • find safe emergency housing or a refuge
  • get an injunction to exclude the perpetrator or get back in to your home 

Get advice if you're worried about your safety or losing your home because of domestic abuse or a relationship breakdown.

Contact a Shelter adviser online or by phone

Sorting out what happens to a joint tenancy in court    

If you're unable to end a joint tenancy legally or can't agree who should continue to live in the home, you can sometimes ask the court to resolve things.

The court may be able to:

  • make an injunction to exclude a violent partner or ex
  • order the transfer of a council or housing association tenancy into one name only

You may need to speak to a solicitor who specialises in family law.

Find out more from Citizens Advice about the process of going to court and what happens to your home when you separate.

Last updated 02 Jul 2019 | © Shelter

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