How to change AST agreement when husband voluntarily moves out?

by Readers Question

10:44 AM, 7th September 2020
About 3 months ago

How to change AST agreement when husband voluntarily moves out?

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How to change AST agreement when husband voluntarily moves out?

Hello everyone. We have a house we’ve been renting out to the same married couple for over 3 years – both their names are on the AST. The lady got in touch with us recently to say they’d sadly split up and her husband had voluntarily moved out shortly afterwards. She wishes to remain in the house with her child (and we’d like her to) and she’d like her husband’s name removed from the tenancy agreement.

I called DirectLine (with whom we’re insured) for advice, and the guy on there seemed to think all that was needed was a letter from the husband to agree to this, and we could simply amend the original AST doc ourselves with reference to this letter. We’d certainly want to avoid all the ‘witnessing of signatures’ hassle of a completely new agreement if possible, especially with the C-19 situation (our original witness is an elderly and now-poorly family friend).

Can anyone confirm how this can be done – as easily as possible, please? And, of course, legally! Is DirectLine’s advice ok?

(We also know we’ll need to amend the names on the secured deposit).

Thank you.

Tom


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Comments

paul kaye

12:52 PM, 7th September 2020
About 3 months ago

Hi
you indeed need to get the vacating tenant to assign his share to the remaining tenant (do this via a solicitor) I assume the Husband did not give notice and if he did ,this in effect ends the tenancy for all. Ask the remaining tenant to sign a new agreement. As this would be a new agreement,you will now need an electrical safety certificate too.As from July 2020 new tenancies need this certificate.It is important you obtain the assignment from the husband,because he could just move back in.As it stands the husband is still on the tenancy,living there or not.He is also responsible .In law a joint tenancy is considered a single tenancy and any tenant is responsible for the full rent ,not just their share.Good luck
Paul

Graham Bowcock

14:35 PM, 7th September 2020
About 3 months ago

Hi Tom
Direct Line's advice is shocking. You cannot just amend the name on a tenancy agreement. Once an agreement is entered into, there are protocols which exist.
The tenants are jointly and severally liable - i.e. one cannot simply walk away from the agreement and let the other one pick up the tab. One the basis that you are happy for the wife to stay, I'm with Paul (above) in that you need to formally end the exisiting joint agreement and do a new one to the wife.
I am not sure why you are concerned about witnesses - you can use a diffeent witness for the new agreement. In fact, if the agreement is for less than three years (i.e. it is not a deed) then strictly speaking no witness is needed. It is, however, good practice. It is more important that the tenant properly completes the agreement and as the issue has been caused by them, then that's their problem to sort out.

Old Mrs Landlord

16:02 PM, 7th September 2020
About 3 months ago

Presumably you have established that the wife will have sufficient resources to keep paying the rent if her husband ceases to make any contribution.

Tom Thumb

21:58 PM, 7th September 2020
About 3 months ago

Thank you everyone.

Yes, the wife has sufficient resources to continue paying the rent, and her mum is a guarantor; we have few concerns there.

I thought DL's advice was too good to be true. We do anticipate the husband being helpful and perfectly willing to provide a letter stating he no longer wishes to be on the tenancy agreement - but this is still not enough? No way to avoid renewing the AST?

Graham, "In fact, if the agreement is for less than three years (i.e. it is not a deed) then strictly speaking no witness is needed." Could this option not be repeated every three years?!

Thanks.

SimonR

11:00 AM, 8th September 2020
About 3 months ago

Probably the easiest way is to do a deed of variance/assignment of tenancy, this needs to be signed by both tenants and yourselves as the landlord. Once signed there will be no need to amend the AST as the deed will supersede it. I would also get a letter from the husband stating he has left the property and agrees to sign the whole deposit over to the remaining tenant, this should not be an email but actual letter.

Tom Thumb

20:56 PM, 12th September 2020
About 3 months ago

Thanks Simon.

Having looked into the advice given on here - thank you all so much - I'm inclined to go the 'Deed of Assignment' route as it seems the most straight forward. I'm hopeful that the husband will be amenable to his wife's wishes.

Charles Fonteijn

13:58 PM, 13th September 2020
About 2 months ago

How about electronic signing. I saw that some offer this for free . That will help with your concern for COVID-19

Graham Bowcock

15:42 PM, 13th September 2020
About 2 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Tom Thumb at 07/09/2020 - 21:58
Yes, you can do a new agreement every three years, without it being a deed.

Tom Thumb

14:43 PM, 4th October 2020
About 2 months ago

Thanks everyone.

I've left it with the lady to decide what to do. I've given her the three options - Deed of Assignment (easiest for all), mutually ending the AST and starting anew (with everything that entails), or even letting it carry on as it is (doesn't affect me, but she reckoned she didn't want this).

Allan Wadsworth

14:49 PM, 20th October 2020
About a month ago

Can I add my thanks to everyone that commented here.
We have been through this 3 times in the last 4 years. - Latest time is today!
We always start afresh but i had wondered about using a Deed of assignment so it was good to see this mentioned.
The previous 2 times the new tenancy bareley lasted the 6 months! - The tenants said there were too many bad memories in the property. Thus we expect that to happen around March 2021.

As the tenant has an £18k income we will also have a gaurantor on £27k,
Anyone like to suggest a sensibly priced CreditCheck company?

We use the NRLA AST, gaurantor and checklist forms. They are very simplistic but that does make them easier to understand. - Ive never looked do we have Property118 suggested forms?
Cheers
Allan


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