Where a landlord has a number of individuals on a single tenancy agreement any variation of the tenancy will impact all the tenants collectively. This is the essence of joint and several liability.
Where a property is let by a number of tenants on a single tenancy agreement any request to vary a tenancy term will need to be agreed by all. This means where a Landlord or agent is contacted by an individual tenant, they should first ensure that the individual tenant speaks on behalf of all those on the tenancy agreement.
If the authority of all the tenants is sought, then discussions to vary the tenancy agreement can proceed. If the authority is not available, then the landlord or agent should make clear to the tenant making the request that nothing can be varied until all the tenants to the tenancy are in agreement.
All tenants to a single tenancy are jointly and severally liable. This means for example, that they are all responsible for the total amount of the monthly rent. It is usual practice for tenants who live together to divide the monthly rental equally amongst themselves and pay that proportion every month. However, if one tenant fails to pay his proportion it falls to the others to make up the difference or the landlord can proceed against all of them for the rent arrears. Consequently, it is because of this joint responsibility that any discussion to vary a term of the tenancy must be made with all the tenants who are ultimately responsible to satisfy the old and any new terms.
We understand that some agents are struggling with tenants who have a difference of opinion in these particularly difficult times. The advice in that situation is simple, the tenants must be informed, ideally in writing, that any agreement must be mutual, and you will leave it to them to reach an agreement. Once the tenants reach an agreement, an agent can then refer it to the landlord for further instruction. Agents are advised not to get involved in a difference of opinion between tenants where possible but where they feel they have to, to ensure that they copy all tenants into any communications.
The contents of this blog post is not legal advice and is provided for general information purposes only. If legal advice is needed readers should contact a solicitor. No responsibility for any information contained within this post is accepted and PainSmith solicitors accepts no liability in respect of the contents or for action taken based on this post.
Published 29 April 2020