New house mate for existing tenant – Can he be added to AST?

by Readers Question

13:33 PM, 7th November 2016
About 2 years ago

New house mate for existing tenant – Can he be added to AST?

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New house mate for existing tenant – Can he be added to AST?

I have a tenant who at the moment is living alone in my 3 bedroom house. In order to relieve the strain on his finances, he would like a friend to share the house and the bills with him. add tenant

I do not object in principle, but do not want to start a new tenancy agreement as I would be stuck with them for 6 months if they do not pay the rent.

As he has been a tenant for 8 months now, I can evict any time. He is not behind with the rent, but lives very much hand to mouth. I would much prefer his friend to go on the existing AST.

However, I do not know if this is possible and have not found any information about it so far. Does anyone know if I can have an amendment to the existing AST with an extra name on it?

Also, am I right in thinking that 2 people sharing a house in separate bedrooms does not constitute a HMO?

Many thanks

Martin



Comments

Neil Patterson

13:48 PM, 7th November 2016
About 2 years ago

Hi Martin,

As long as it is not more than two unrelated people renting then this is not classed as an HMO.

Under normal circumstances the general advice is to start with a new AST, but hopefully others can help on this point.

Lindsay Keith

11:09 AM, 8th November 2016
About 2 years ago

Don't forget your financial checks and references! As to deposits, rather than feed the Deposit taking agencies, I prefer if possible a good healthy and well-bottomed guarantor such as parents or grandparents.

Gunga Din

11:21 AM, 8th November 2016
About 2 years ago

I would say you definitely need anyone living at the property over 16 (or is it 18?) to be named on the AST. Worst case scenario is that friend moves in, original guy disappears and friend is left. There's no AST with his name on it so his status is uncertain. He might refuse to pay any rent and refuse to move out.

It might invalidate your insurance and mortgage lenders conditions. If your current tenant sublets, then who is responsible for right to rent checks and basic referencing on the newcomer? Technically its your current tenant, but are you happy to delegate him to do this to your satisfaction?

With any multiple occupant situation you need all names on the AST and the phrase "jointly and severally liable" for rent and any other liabilities.

You say "but do not want to start a new tenancy agreement as I would be stuck with them for 6 months if they do not pay the rent". If you sign a new AST then you can pursue both of them if one of them defaults, and you've made them both liable for 6 months rent.

I would agree to your current tenant inviting a friend to co-rent, but fully reference the new guy as you would the original, and create a new AST with both names.

Gunga Din

Sam Addison

11:22 AM, 8th November 2016
About 2 years ago

Would your tenant be breaking the tenancy agreement if he took in a lodger? I believe that if the tenant leaves (or is evicted) his lodger would have to go as well.
If it comes to that, he could have a girlfriend or boyfriend live with him but not on the tenancy agreement who would have no rights under the AST.

Ian Narbeth

11:25 AM, 8th November 2016
About 2 years ago

Hi Martin
It can be done if you consent to the tenant assigning the lease to himself and his friend and (for good measure) you get the two of them to covenant with you to comply with the AST terms. That preserves the existing AST.

However, unless you have legal experience it can be tricky to get it right. You also need to ensure you deal with any deposit correctly.

There is a useful article here: http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/content/assignment-of-a-residential-tenancy and a link to some documents you may need. I have not checked these so cannot warrant them.

John Frith

12:41 PM, 8th November 2016
About 2 years ago

If the prospective tenant passes the reference and credit checks, and is someone you would let the house to from the start, why wouldn't you let him take over responsibility for paying the rent with a new tenancy?

Gunga Din

13:02 PM, 8th November 2016
About 2 years ago

"Does anyone know if I can have an amendment to the existing AST with an extra name on it?"

Since the existing AST has gone beyond the fixed term into periodic, if another name was added to it that person wouldn't have the protection of tenure that goes with the fixed term.

Mandy Thomson

14:31 PM, 9th November 2016
About 2 years ago

As others have said, I would suggest initially taking the new occupant on as the existing tenant's lodger, then doing a new AST in both their names in, say six months time, assuming the arrangement works - even friends can fall out in house shares! A lodger is much easier to get rid of than a full tenant - they simply require a month's notice, or less if reasonable under the circumstances, and a court order isn't required to enforce the eviction.

However, don't forget that even a lodger requires a right to rent check and should be reference checked in the same way as a tenant.

A deed of assignment is best used where the original number of tenants is remaining the same (that is, where one is being swapped for another), and should really only be used once and ideally only during the fixed term.

Ian Narbeth

15:06 PM, 9th November 2016
About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mandy Thomson" at "09/11/2016 - 14:31":

Mandy, you write:
"... I would suggest initially taking the new occupant on as the existing tenant’s lodger .... A lodger is much easier to get rid of than a full tenant – they simply require a month’s notice, .... and a court order isn’t required to enforce the eviction"

The problem from the landlord's perspective is that the lodger is not in contract with him. The landlord cannot give notice to the lodger until he has got the tenant out. The lodger will not be liable for failure by the tenant to pay rent. It may also be difficult to prove who caused damage and the tenant can raise arguments that the landlord let the lodger in and should look to him for compensation for damage. Any deposit given by the lodger will be held by the tenant.

My view is the landlord should either go the assignment route or bite the bullet and grant a new AST.

Mandy Thomson

15:47 PM, 9th November 2016
About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Ian Narbeth" at "09/11/2016 - 15:06":

Hi Ian

These are valid points, but if the new person moves in as a tenant under a new AST, he is entitled to 6 months in the property before a s.21 (landlord's notice to quit) can be enforced. As the existing tenant has to date paid the rent, there is every reason to assume he will continue to do so with the additional room rent from his friend.


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