Joint tenancy valid if not everyone signs? Watch

wegan2
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Hi,

Earlier this year we found a student house which had a joint tenancy agreement for 5 people. Three of us signed the contract, however another two didn't. All 5 of us were named on the contract under the tenant, so we presumed it was only valid if everyone signed.

We tried to contract the landlord for these two to sign, but after a month or so of no reply we gave up and decided to sign onto another house. However, we are worried that the three of us who signed will still have to pay the rent on the other house.

Can anyone give us some advice? Thanks in advance.
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balotelli12
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You 3 are liable jointly and separately.
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wegan2
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(Original post by balotelli12)
You 3 are liable jointly and separately.
The advice from the Students Union was that this was not legally binding. I think I made it a bit unclear in the post- we were all named together as one 'tenant', so I think if only 3 of us signed it isn't binding.
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balotelli12
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Look at your tenancy agreement. I will be very surprised if it does not include the phrase "jointly and separately liable..."
If it does each of you has signed up to be solely responsible for the debts.
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455409
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(Original post by balotelli12)
Look at your tenancy agreement. I will be very surprised if it does not include the phrase "jointly and separately liable..."
If it does each of you has signed up to be solely responsible for the debts.
Would that not make the contract void seeing as it's somewhat impossible for them all to be individually and solely responsible at the same time?
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wegan2
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(Original post by balotelli12)
Look at your tenancy agreement. I will be very surprised if it does not include the phrase "jointly and separately liable..."
If it does each of you has signed up to be solely responsible for the debts.
Just checked through and this phrase was nowhere to be seen. The contract always refers to the 'tenant' as one entity so according to the students union that means if all 5 named on the contract don't sign it is no longer binding.
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Reue
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(Original post by james1211)
Would that not make the contract void seeing as it's somewhat impossible for them all to be individually and solely responsible at the same time?
My understanding was that this is very common. It means that legally the landlord can choose to pursue all the tenants together.. or just 1 of the tenants (who must then sue the other tenants themselves).
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455409
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(Original post by Reue)
My understanding was that this is very common. It means that legally the landlord can choose to pursue all the tenants together.. or just 1 of the tenants (who must then sue the other tenants themselves).
Wouldn't it also mean they are all responsible for paying the full rent individually and therefore could all be charged the full amount which should be split equally between them? I guess it would depend heavily on the wording of it. I've done a module in tenancy law and haven't seen this before but again I may be interpreting the wording here incorrectly.

Either that or we're both saying the same thing and i'm having a hard time believing it's true because i'd literally never enter an agreement where if someone didn't pay i could be pursued for their payment!
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Reue
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(Original post by james1211)
Wouldn't it also mean they are all responsible for paying the full rent individually and therefore could all be charged the full amount which should be split equally between them? I guess it would depend heavily on the wording of it. I've done a module in tenancy law and haven't seen this before but again I may be interpreting the wording here incorrectly.

Either that or we're both saying the same thing and i'm having a hard time believing it's true because i'd literally never enter an agreement where if someone didn't pay i could be pursued for their payment!
Contract law modules here, although they were a few years ago now!

I believe that would be the case, and reading some of the replies to similar types of questions on another more financially focused forum; seems to be perfectly legal.

In such an agreement, any individual of the joint tenancy can be held responsible for payment of the full rent amount.


It is one of the reasons guarantors need to be very careful as they could be held liable for the entire household's rent.. not just that owed by their child.
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455409
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(Original post by Reue)
Contract law modules here, although they were a few years ago now!

I believe that would be the case, and reading some of the replies to similar types of questions on another more financially focused forum; seems to be perfectly legal.

In such an agreement, any individual of the joint tenancy can be held responsible for payment of the full rent amount.
Yeah it was a few years ago I last did it too so i'm a bit rusty

Just for the OP, this does sound tricky. A contract is of course, only valid if signed by those bound by it. I'm far from an expert on this and I think you should seek legal assistance in this but my understanding is that the contract is not valid due to the fact that it has not been signed and formally agreed to by several of those people mentioned in it who should have been bound by it. This would in the very least make that clause void in my opinion.

I think it's time for a discussion with your agent/landlord.

I would advise in the future you do not enter this kind of contract because you could easily be held responsible for paying huge sums of money if others decide not to pay their share. Never let yourself be legally responsible for someone elses costs no matter how much you trust them as people change and things happen.
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wegan2
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(Original post by james1211)
Yeah it was a few years ago I last did it too so i'm a bit rusty

Just for the OP, this does sound tricky. A contract is of course, only valid if signed by those bound by it. I'm far from an expert on this and I think you should seek legal assistance in this but my understanding is that the contract is not valid due to the fact that it has not been signed and formally agreed to by several of those people mentioned in it who should have been bound by it. This would in the very least make that clause void in my opinion.

I think it's time for a discussion with your agent/landlord.

I would advise in the future you do not enter this kind of contract because you could easily be held responsible for paying huge sums of money if others decide not to pay their share. Never let yourself be legally responsible for someone elses costs no matter how much you trust them as people change and things happen.
The contract has been seen by the students union accommodation office who said that without all 5 signatures it is invalid. Not the best legal option obviously, but they must deal with these contracts a lot so i shall trust their judgement.

It definitely isn't an ideal form of contract but they seem to be quite common in the student housing market!
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MagicNMedicine
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You have to be very careful with joint tenancy. A lot of students think "well thats just not fair so it can't be legally enforceable". You are right its not fair but the landlord won't care. It's a way to give security for the landlord.

In reality a landlord will go for the easiest pursuable party, if one of the housemates is behind on rent and just not playing ball, if you have a joint contract he will just go for the others, or for a guarantor.

I got stung by this badly one time in a house of 4 where one guy just basically wasn't paying rent. He had all sorts of arguments that the landlord was being unreasonable, that the letting agents were complete crooks, and could argue to death why he had done nothing wrong but the basic fact was in our July to June 12 month contract he only ever paid four months: he stopped paying rent after two months claiming that there was an administrative error that meant his direct debit was stopped, which he claimed wasn't his fault, but then when the agent and landlord repeatedly asked him to pay rent by cheque or re-set up his direct debit he claimed that he couldn't because this administrative error had caused him 'cash flow problems' which was their fault. Eventually over the duration of the contract they managed to get two more months' payment from him but that still meant he was eight months short on rent. Whenever they chased him he used the same arguments - its your fault that you caused an administrative error and don't blame him that he can't pay. More than likely he had just cancelled his direct debit himself.

The rest of us paid all our rent on time right up to the end of the contract, but when it came to the deposits (equivalent to about a month's rent each) he kept all of our deposits, which covered four more months of that housemate's unpaid rent. But that still left a shortfall of four months rent. The landlord asked the other three of us to pay for it but we said forget it, you pursue him.

Then about two months later I got an angry phonecall from the Dad of one of the other housemates who was screaming blue murder at me that he had been sued for four months worth of rent when his son had paid all his rent. I explained to him that it wasn't me that had dropped short on rent, it was the dodgy housemate, but his Dad's position was basically "I don't care: sort it out between yourselves but I sure as damn am not covering because you're too childish to pay up to your responsibilities". It caused a major fall out between me and that guy's son (and we had been mates for years). In the end I talked him in to coming to a solicitor with me (the third housemate that had been paying had gone travelling round the world and so was pretty much out of contact) and we got told sorry, nothing you can do, the landlord's within his rights to get the money of either of you or the guarantor, and the solicitor said "you need to choose more carefully who your friends are in future".

In the end, annoying that it was, to preserve the friendship between me and the one who's Dad was being sued, I agreed reluctantly to pay 2 months of the dodgy housemate's unpaid rent, and he covered the other 2 months, so adding to our lost deposit both of us were down best part of £1000 because of our housemate's refusal to pay rent.
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455409
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(Original post by wegan2)
The contract has been seen by the students union accommodation office who said that without all 5 signatures it is invalid. Not the best legal option obviously, but they must deal with these contracts a lot so i shall trust their judgement.

It definitely isn't an ideal form of contract but they seem to be quite common in the student housing market!
That would also be my opinion on the matter. You can trust their judgement but i wouldn't rely on that if you intend to void the contract. Once you've failed to pay something it's too late to go back for professional legal advice if the SU were wrong!
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jelly1000
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(Original post by james1211)
Wouldn't it also mean they are all responsible for paying the full rent individually and therefore could all be charged the full amount which should be split equally between them? I guess it would depend heavily on the wording of it. I've done a module in tenancy law and haven't seen this before but again I may be interpreting the wording here incorrectly.

Either that or we're both saying the same thing and i'm having a hard time believing it's true because i'd literally never enter an agreement where if someone didn't pay i could be pursued for their payment!
I'd love to not do that but I don't have much choice! I don't know of a student landlord round where I am who doesn't do that.
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