When tenants separate or break up during the tenancy it can be difficult to know what course of action landlords should take. Here are some things to consider if you are ever faced with this situation.
Are they joint tenants?
If both of your tenants sign the tenancy agreement when they moved in, then it’s a ‘joint tenancy’. Joint tenants have the same rights and responsibilities, but each is jointly and individually responsible for paying the rent. This means that if one tenant moves out of your rental property without giving notice or they failed to pay their share of the rent, you can claim the outstanding rent from the other joint tenant. You can also take your joint tenants to court if they withhold rent.
However, if each of the tenants signed a separate tenancy agreement, then they have separate tenancies.
Deduction from tenancy deposits for joint tenancy
Normally, even if your joint tenants have paid separate shares, the tenancy deposit will be a single amount for the whole of the joint tenancy.
In case one joint tenant failed to pay their share of the rent or has caused property damage, you as the landlord may be entitled to deduct the shortfall of the damage costs from the total deposit but you would need the agreement of both parties. You will have to decide with the other joint tenant how to divide up the remaining deposit when it’s returned.
If joint tenants want to end their fixed-term tenancy
Joint tenants can only end their fixed-term tenancy (i.e. for 6 or 12 months) before the fixed term ends if:
- You (the landlord) and the joint tenants all agree that the tenancy can end early. This is called ‘surrendering the tenancy’
- You have indicated a ‘break clause’ in the tenancy agreement, which allows tenants to give notice and end their tenancy early. Be aware that one of the joint tenants needs to seek the agreement of the other unless your tenancy agreement says otherwise.
In a case where a joint tenant wants to end their tenancy without the other’s agreement through a written notice to quit, the other tenant can ask the court for an injunction to prevent them from doing so.
If joint tenants want to end their periodic tenancy
A periodic tenancy is one that rolls from month to month or week to week and has no set end date, or had an end date that was not renewed.
In this type of tenancy, one or any other joint tenant can end the tenancy by providing you (the landlord) with a valid ‘notice to quit’ in writing. Take note that this can be done without the agreement of the other joint tenant.
How much notice to give can be found in the tenancy agreement. However, if the tenancy agreement doesn’t indicate a notice period, you must be given at least:
- 1 month’s notice for a monthly tenancy
- 4 weeks’ notice for a weekly tenancy
You, as the landlord, may agree to accept a shorter notice period. It is important that this confirmation is in writing and you must receive a notification letter that includes the agreed leaving date.
If a joint tenant wants to end a tenancy, the tenant may request that you grant him/her a new tenancy in his/her sole name if notice to quit has already been provided. Or, the tenant may request your approval if someone else can take the other tenant’s place. It is your discretion as the landlord to agree to a new tenancy with the person who wants to stay.
In the event of difficulty, Keyring Lettings will be pleased to discuss with you the steps to enforce the terms of the Tenancy Agreement. However, we would stress that the vast majority of lettings we manage are uneventful and trouble-free.
KeyRing Lettings is a ‘not for profit’ agency, providing a comprehensive letting and management service for landlords and tenants in Mendip. If you are thinking of letting your property and don’t know where to start, contact us today.