One student wants to leave a joint tenancy and rent not received?

by Readers Question

14:40 PM, 22nd September 2016
About 2 years ago

One student wants to leave a joint tenancy and rent not received?

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One student wants to leave a joint tenancy and rent not received?

Four students share a house that I have let to them under a joint tenancy on a fixed term which ends in August 2017. There is a proper tenancy agreement and the deposit is guaranteed in compliance with the law. There are no guarantors to the tenancy. The tenancy agreement shows a monthly rent due on the 1st of each month. The tenants have agreed between themselves to split this equally between them and I have agreed to accept the rent on a termly basis (i.e. 4 months rent in each of Oct, Jan, April) to coincide with their student finance.responsibility

Within days of the tenancy commencing the students have fallen out with each other and as a result one of them has effectively moved back home leaving the remaining three to carry on the tenancy. I am in touch with her and her parents and with the other tenants and relations are reasonably cordial at this stage. The tenants are adamant that there is no way back for the relationship and the girl and her family say she will not be moving back in. All parties are willing to accept a replacement tenant but at this stage in the year – term has now started – the chances of finding someone are probably not strong. I have advertised as have the tenants via social media/word of mouth etc and we are awaiting any interest.

I have asked the girl to continue to pay her portion of the rent which she has agreed to do but it is yet to arrive. The other tenants tell me that they understand the concept of joint and several liability, but as students I doubt their ability to cover much more than their own portion of the rent.

I am looking for advice on how to proceed tactically to ensure that I do not lose too much/any rent. At what stage, assuming that things drag on, should I take action, what action should I take and against whom?

Thanks in advance for your advice.

Nick



Comments

Yvette Newbury

9:09 AM, 23rd September 2016
About 2 years ago

Why would you not have guarantors if they are all students? I appreciate that is not helpful in answering your question but how did you assess that they could afford the rent otherwise?

If I understand this tenancy set up correctly then the present 3 tenants are due to pay the full rent unless they can find a 4th person to join them - though you could consider giving them the next month to find another person and swallow the slight reduction in rent you receive. There are plenty of PhD students and other students whose term does not start until mid October who will be looking for accommodation so this situation could well be resolved very soon.

Kelly Joanna

9:16 AM, 23rd September 2016
About 2 years ago

All tenants are joint and severally liable. If you can't get the vacated tenant to pay their proportion then the other three must make up the shortfall. Or you could give them the option to find a replacement and then draw up a new tenancy agreement and charge a small admin fee.

Bill O'Dell

11:49 AM, 23rd September 2016
About 2 years ago

I think you probably need to take a pragmatic view here. Your 3 students are unlikely to be able to afford the 4th rent and you won't win any friends by trying to make them. You have no guarantors to chase so you are down to 3 tenants for now.
Cut your losses, and replace the tenant with a student found by the other tenants, or tell them the room will be filled by you. Spareroom.co.uk will probably get you a tenant and you will be left with Council Tax if not a student but with a 25 % discount for 1 only. This is better than an empty room.
If you can't fill it - lock it so the existing tenants don't sublet or use for partying/friends.
At the end of the year you have a strong case to keep all the deposits.
I'd release the girl who left once she has stopped paying or her parents won't pay any more.
Next year don't let any one near without a guarantor that you have credit referenced and they stack up. Consider Rent insurance as this has an impact on those who don't pay.
And it's happened to us all, so don't waste any time berating yourself, tighten your processes and move on!

Kelly Joanna

11:59 AM, 23rd September 2016
About 2 years ago

You cannot lock off any room in the property. An assured short hold tenancy guarantees exclusive use of the premises as seen.

Bill O'Dell

12:54 PM, 23rd September 2016
About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Kelly Joanna" at "23/09/2016 - 11:59":

You're absolutely right Kelly, but we are talking students here. There is also an absolute liability for them to pay, and they aren't. There isn't a legal situation going on here, only an accommodation problem and in my experience, you don't deal with students in the same way as you might other tenants.
I'd still lock the door, and deny them access unless they agree to pay the full rent for the full year - then they are entitled to it.
The situation that YL Newbury is talking about needs "managing", not legal action.

Yvonne Francis

13:29 PM, 23rd September 2016
About 2 years ago

I'm a student Landlord and although in law this is quite straight forward and the comments above correct then it seems difficult in practise. I have been faced with this situation, for various reasons several times. If the tenant who has left fails to pay simply bill all your tenants including the tenants who has left. I charge 1% weekly for overdue rent.

I don't think it a good idea to make payments according to their terms. I let for 52 weeks and expect them to pay late July or August their first payment. I charge quarterly because I self manage. I've never had a problem with this. I don't really understand why you have a lease that requires monthly payments to make an informal agreement of termly which you seem to have made. Such things only lead to confusion.

I think you should let your tenants advertise, strictly speaking, if it's a shared lease you have no right to put in anyone. You could find sources for them in your local area to advise them. www,accommodationforstudents.com is a very good national site for tenants and Landlords.

I think also you should get parental guarantees. They are always easy to get and I only take groups who can supply them from parents within this country.

If it's any comfort when I have been faced with this problem things have worked out ok, but I always made my tenants clear about the situation and would have billed them if the situation had continued, which I advise you to do, especially as it looks as if one of the first payments have not been made and will be soon overdue. I have never in all the 35 years of being a Landlord lost rent and I hope you experience the same.

Yvonne Francis

14:23 PM, 23rd September 2016
About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Bill O'Dell" at "23/09/2016 - 12:54":

You really are out of order here. Students have tenants rights like every body else and in a shared house the Landlord does not have the right to put in a tenant during the tenancy let alone lock doors.
I've been in this situation and have always resolved it and lost no money.
This is terrible advice and you should be ashamed of yourself.

Kelly Joanna

14:34 PM, 23rd September 2016
About 2 years ago

well you leave yourself wide open for prosecution that's all I can say. The ethic behind your comments, and the discrimination in fact would worry me if you were my landlord!

Bill O'Dell

14:52 PM, 23rd September 2016
About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Yvonne Francis" at "23/09/2016 - 14:23":

Well that a view too. Like you I am a student landlord and I have never had a void and have always had happy tenants. In my experience students are experiencing their first taste of the real world and you simply cannot treat them like professional tenants. They need a helping hand and some guidance - maybe I didn't make it clear that I don't do anything without their consent, but neither will I roll over and let them go wild. Negotiating a solution that keeps them where they are will be welcomed by them.
I haven't had a void either, and have had happy tenants for 10yrs+.
YL is in a difficult position with no guarantees and could - if too heavy handed - loose all their tenants. Students will respect a landlord who helps them to take control of a situation and provides solutions. Simply demanding rent every quarter won't work with students as they have to often wait for student loans to come through.
And as for charging 169% AER - you should be ashamed of yourself !

Chris Clare

16:17 PM, 23rd September 2016
About 2 years ago

Whilst I charge a one off flat fee for overdue rent as I know quite a lot of other landlords do, I can't help thinking that anyone charging a 1% per week charge on overdue rents could be falling foul of consumer credit regulations. In that I mean charging interest on late payments, to all intents and purposes is credit without the valid FCA Consumer Credit Permissions.

I could be wrong but all the same I would be extremely cautious in that regard.

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