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Joint tenancies

Moving in or out of a joint tenancy

You do not become a joint tenant automatically when you move into an existing house share and replace someone who is leaving.

The best option is to sign a new contract which names you as a joint tenant.

Signing an agreement and paying rent

To protect your rights as a joint tenant, it's a good idea to:

  • sign a new tenancy agreement with your name on it

  • pay your share of the rent directly to the landlord or agent

Always keep proof of any payments and agreements you have made.

If you pay rent to someone you live with who passes it to the landlord, you will need evidence of a direct agreement with the landlord.

This is because if your agreement is only with the person you live with, you could be a lodger with limited rights.

Paying a deposit

If you replace someone who is leaving, the best option is to pay your share of the deposit directly to the landlord or agent.

You can ask for a new inventory before you sign.

Make sure your name and the amount you have paid are recorded:

  • on the tenancy agreement

  • with the deposit protection scheme

Your landlord or agent must protect your deposit within 30 days from when you paid.

Paying your deposit to an outgoing tenant

This is not usually a good idea but it does happen. It's usually best to pay your share of the deposit directly to the landlord or agent.

Always ask for a written information to confirm your deposit is protected.

Search under the lead tenant's name when you check your deposit is protected.

A joint tenancy does not end when a joint tenant moves out.

Everyone is still responsible for rent, even the tenant who has left.

If a joint tenant moves out

Moving out does not mean someone stops being a joint tenant.

Unless there is a new agreement, they are still responsible for rent.

Each joint tenant is responsible for the whole rent, even if you agree to split it.

This is called 'joint and several liability'.

If the full rent is not paid, the landlord can take steps to:

  • end the tenancy for everyone

  • get the money back

The landlord can choose who to ask for the rent.

Most landlords ask the tenants who still live in the property.

You could be asked to pay the unpaid rent even if you paid your share.

Make sure rent is paid

Try to agree what to do before someone moves out.

You could find someone new to move in.

All the tenants and the landlord need to agree to the new person becoming a joint tenant.

It's a good idea to get any agreement in writing.

Last updated: 25 June 2024

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