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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
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Hi, My daughter rented a house in Falmouth with two flatmates

Resolved Question:

Hi,
My daughter rented a house in Falmouth with two flatmates at the end of July under a 12 month contract (with joint and several liability). She posted the entire security deposit on behalf of all three tenants (GBP 1,100). It turned out that her boyfriend and flat mate had serious personal issues and the relationship turned increasingly abusive over time. It culminated in a police intervention (which is on record) in October. It was untenable for her to stay, and she left in early November. She paid the rent for both November and December in order to give her previous flat mates a fair amount of time to consider their options:
Either -
1. Stay in the house and release her from the contract and replace her security deposit, or
2. Terminate the contract and instruct the landlord that he can re-market the house
Under option two rent would be paid until a new tenant takes over. The landlord is happy to release her from the contract as long as the two other tenants agree.
They are refusing to co-operate. They are assuming that by doing nothing she will pay 1/3 of their rent until the end of the contract, and her security deposit will remain locked up.
Is there basis for legal action (especially given that the reason why she left was documented domestic abuse)?
Best regards,
Robert Ekblom
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Hi.
Thank you for your question. My name is ***** ***** I will try to help with this.
I am sorry but I cannot give you good news.
She is a signature to an AST and liable up until the completion of the contract. The fact of her personal circumstances are not the misfortune of the landlord I'm afraid.
Leaving mid way through an AST is a breach and she is liable for the full or separate amount.
She could try to argue that the landlord should have tried to find a replacement. He is under a duty to mitigate his loss. When the entire house is vacant that is easier to do than when a room is empty but an empty room can be advertised nevertheless.
The risk here is that he will just recover from the remaining tenants and they will sue her for her share of the agreement. I suppose you could ask them to prove that they have not unreasonably refused replacement tenants.
The deposit will remain tied up until the end of the contract though unless they agree to terminate.
I am sorry but I have to give you truthful information.
Can I clarify anything for you?
Jo
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thank you for your response and explanation. The landlord is very reasonable, and we have no cause to put him in a bad situation. The question is: Given that domestic abuse was the reason for leaving, and that it was not safe or reasonable to stay, is it not possible to use a legal avenue to force the other two tenants to release her from the contract or to terminate the contract so that the landlord can re-market the house? It does not seem fair and equitable that they would be able to enjoy the residence with my daughter's monthly contribution and security deposit in place (given the grounds of her departure). She also has no control over how the property is being treated, and it's her money at risk if they cause damages. Please give me your thoughts.

Many thanks.

Best,

Robert

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
I am sorry but I am afraid I cannot give you good news.
One instance of a report to the police does not prove 'domestic abuse'. In fact, most reports of domestics amount to no more than verbal arguments.
Further, I am afraid that does nothing about her contractual responsibilities.
Sadly, I notice courts are becoming increasingly intolerant about things like this. I am afraid some women have used 'domestic abuse' as a bit of a universal excuse for everything and courts are becoming jaded with the whole issue.
She cannot force the other tenants to leave. She can leave herself obviously bu remains liable.
She could try to argue that they are under a duty to take reasonable steps to replace her though.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 69519
Experience: Over 5 years in practice
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