4 Tenants on the same AST but one wants to leave

by Readers Question

20:29 PM, 4th June 2015
About 3 years ago

4 Tenants on the same AST but one wants to leave

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4 Tenants on the same AST but one wants to leave

I have a house rented to 5 students, they all are on the same AST starting on 20th October for 12 month with no break clause. 4 Tenants on the same AST but one wants to leave

All the rent has been paid upfront but one of them wants to leave earlier.

The best cycle to let such a property is end of August so I’m a bit off cycle and missing the best student groups.

To get back to the best cycle I have offered my tenants to leave (all of them) on the 20th August and I’ll refund them two months rent and their deposits subject to property condition. Two of them are interested, but the others want to stay for different periods (from end of September to the end of term).

I have heard that even if only one tenant submits a resignation letter this will terminate the contract for the whole group.

Is it true?

If it is true what this letter must say?

What if the rest of the group opposed to it?

Could some one please advise what is the legal way to end up this tenancy earlier with the help of those 1 or two tenants who want to leave?

Regards

Caroline



Comments

Mark Alexander

20:31 PM, 4th June 2015
About 3 years ago

I have invited Romain Garcin to comment because the fact that you have accepted rent in advance for a fixed term tenancy makes me wonder.
.

Romain Garcin

21:10 PM, 4th June 2015
About 3 years ago

Hi Caroline,

A fixed term tenancy can only be 'surrendered', i.e. ended early, if all the joint-tenants agree. Therefore all of your tenants must accept your offer for you to be able to proceed.

As long as rent is paid and no serious breach occur, there is no other way to end the tenancy early.

It is only in case of a periodic tenancy that a single joint-tenant can end the tenancy by serving a notice to quit.

Also note that a tenancy can only be granted to 4 joint-tenants at most. I do not know whether this has a practical effect in your case.

Mark Alexander

23:04 PM, 4th June 2015
About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Romain Garcin" at "04/06/2015 - 21:10":

Thanks for that clarification Romain.
.

Caroline Bogodelny

10:17 AM, 5th June 2015
About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Romain Garcin" at "04/06/2015 - 21:10":

Hello Romain
Many thanks for your answer.
You said "Also note that a tenancy can only be granted to 4 joint-tenants at most."
So if there are 5 tenants on the same AST - does it invalidate it?
If the property has 5 bedrooms and tenants come as a group of 5 and want to be on the same contract - what is the right way to do it?
Regards.
Caroline

Romain Garcin

13:55 PM, 5th June 2015
About 3 years ago

OK, I shouldn't have written that you cannot, but the 5th tenant will only be a tenant in equity (beneficial interest) and only the first 4 will own the interest in land.

Honestly I do not know the exact impact (if any) and what landlords should look out for but I thought it might be something to be aware of and check.

Rob Crawford

16:17 PM, 6th June 2015
About 3 years ago

I don't think it's in your interest to accept to end the tenancy early. All five are on a fixed term AST as such they are committed until the end of that term. Any change now will involve lots of paper work etc etc. The tenant that wants to leave can do so but he is not entitled to a return of the rent or his deposit until the end of the fixed term. If the tenant who wants to leave dosen't like this then get him/her to do the foot work and engage / fund their own solicitor to propose a legally acceptable solution. With the rent paid upfront and assuming deposit has been protected and prescribed info issued correctly and a good AST you are in a strong position. Of course if the tenant has a valid, maybe compassionate, reason to leave early this may seem a bit hard.

Neil Robb

21:03 PM, 7th June 2015
About 3 years ago

Caroline

I would not look at trying to invalidate your tenancy agreement if you do what is to stop the tenants claiming back there full rent.

I know the circumstances are slightly different but the Housing benefit are now claiming back payments from non registered landlords claiming the tenancy is invalid. When I read this I then asked why then would private tenants not do the same.

So be careful what you do. They will always be people who want to exploit situations.

Caroline Bogodelny

21:13 PM, 8th June 2015
About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Neil Robb" at "07/06/2015 - 21:03":

Many thanks to all who commented on my post. You provided me with comprehensive advise. Caroline

Caroline Bogodelny

14:20 PM, 26th June 2015
About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Romain Garcin" at "04/06/2015 - 21:10":

Hello
I have had some developments in this house since my las post.
The initial reason for my question was that I have been approached by one of the tenants who asked me to assign her part of the contract as she finished her exams and wanted to leave to France. Then I've been approached by another tenant who found a job and wanted to move in with her boyfriend. I have offered them a solution that could benefit both sides - to finish the contract in August and I refund rent to all tenants. However other tenants wanted to stay till the end of the term.
The first tenant became very insistent and aggressive in her demands to find a substitute to assign her tenancy. I've been reluctant to do so because I had 5 vetted tenants on the fix term AST with all rent paid upfront keeping the property reasonably clean. So now, when its less than 4 month left on the contract, and tenants, all students, will be finishing their obligations to the university one by one and wanting to leave by assigning their tenancies to others I do not want to create precedents by allowing one to assign as then I couldn't refuse others and will end up with a totally different lot from those started - complications that I do not really want.
I have received a letter from University of London Housing Services that supports students in private sector accommodation and provides advice advocacy and legal representation.
He writes" I understand that Ms A. has approached you regarding the assignment of her part of the tenancy. As she moving abroad, she will not be able to benefit from the property and as such has decided to exercise her right to assign. I understand that the permission tossing has been refused on the basis that doing so would give the new occupant a minimum tenancy of 6 month, when there is less than 6 month remaining on the agreement. This would only be the case were an entirely new tenancy to be granted. In this case, the new occupant would be joining a pre existing tenancy, and as such, the 6 month minimum period has already elapsed, Further to this you mentioned that you are reluctant to allow assignment due to it thus allowing other flatmates to do so. The tenancy agreement states that tenants are"not to Assign or sublet any part of the property, or give up the property or any part of it to someone else" This clause is subject to Section 19 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1927, which expressly states that where tenants contractually obliged to seek consent to assign, that the landlord cannot "unreasonably withhold" such consent. In this case refusing consent on a hypothetical situation would not be deemed reasonable. Further, the Competition and Markets Authority Guidance on unfair Terms in Tenancy Agreements (September 2005) states that the clause as written constitutes and unfair term. Ms A wants to navigate this process as quickly as possible and has offered to find the new tenant herself. As the rent has already paid for the period until the end of tenancy, there will be no financial loss to you as landlord. No guarantees can be made that others cannot assign, as this is their right to do so. As such, it is requested that you provide permission to assign without further delay. I'm happy to provide the paperwork to do so, should both parties wish."
I'm very upset and confused. I thought that if tenants sign on a 12 month fix term contract with no break clause they will have to stay till the end of term. What this letter say is that any tenant has a right to leave by assigning their part of contract. I do not find that a student tenant who finished her exams before the end of term and wants to go back home is not a "reasonable" excuse to assign her contract, otherwise what is the point in 12 month fix term?
It seems that any tenant's reason to assign the contract is reasonable whilst any landlord reason could be deemed as unreasonable

Are all those Laws cited in the letter are relevant and could force me to allow assignment unless a "reasonable" ground is there not to allow it.

Could you please show me a real example of a "reasonable" ground to refuse assignment. At the moment it seems that any reason in the world could be deemed as "unreasonable" by those biased Housing Service advocates.

My Assured Shorthold Tenancy agreement is under part 1 of the Housing Act 1988 as amended under part 3 of the Housing Act 1996. What the difference between this and Section 19 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1927? Does the later still applies?

My contract has a clause • We do not have to take the property or the tenancy back from you early unless we want to do so. Does it help in case I do not want to accept assignment?

All tenants on this contract are students. The proposed replacement is a professional.
Is it a "reasonable enough" reason to decline him? It have to be students because of the mortgage and because of the council tax. Our council states " Where a household is a mixture of students and non-students, the exemption does not apply". I can't have more than 3 non students on the same AST as per lender criteria, but I do not want to disclose it to the tenants as I do not want them to start contact my lender with all kind of questions.
RLA advised me that I can ask for proof "beyond doubt" that the substitute person will leave in the end of the term (flight tickets, alternative accommodation arrangements etc.)
Is it "reasonable" to ask?
What will happened with the deposit? There has been some damage to the property already that needs to be rectified before I let any of them go or seek replacement.

If I seek a proper paid legal advise of pay to a solicitor to prepare the deed of assignment can I claim this money from the tenant who asks to assign? Is this reasonable?

Many thanks

Caroline


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