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Aston Lawyer
Aston Lawyer, Solicitor
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 10175
Experience:  LLB(HONS) 20 years of experience in dealing with Conveyancing and Property Law
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Tenancy agreement. My wife and I signed a joint tenancy agreement

Customer Question

Tenancy agreement. My wife and I signed a joint tenancy agreement for a flat. We decided to separate 6 months into the 12 month tenancy. My wife requested (in writing via email) that I leave the flat and she would cover rent and the bills having worked out how much they would be for her. As a result of her requested I moved out, handing over my keys to her. The following week she decided the rent was too much to pay on her own and and again via email stated she had changed her mind and I would have to pay half as I am jointly liable. My question is now I have left as part of a written agreement with my wife do I have a legitimate defence for not paying any further rent on a property I no longer live in or does the fact I appear to have been duped into leaving have no bearing on the rent situation ? What action could I take to avoid paying rent in this property I only left as part of a written agreement. Thanks
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Property Law
Expert:  Aston Lawyer replied 2 years ago.
Hello and thanks for using Just Answer.

I am Al and am happy to assist you with your enquiry.

As both you and your wife signed the Tenancy, you are both "jointly and severally liable" for the rent (ie the Landlord can come against either of you for the full rent or both of you for 50% each).

The fact that your wife had initially agreed to release you from your responsibility to pay the rent has no bearing on your liability to the Landlord, who could come against you for any unpaid rent, as you are bound by the terms of the Tenancy Agreement full stop.

Unfortunately, therefore, you remain at risk of the Landlord claiming rent from you and you would have no defence.
The only thing you could possibly do is to issue Court proceedings against your wife, if you end up having to pay the rent, on the grounds that she had duped you into moving out. Unfortunately, even if you were successful, if she can not afford to pay you, you are no further forward.

You are of course entitled to go back and reside in the Flat (I appreciate you may not wish to do this).

I am sorry this is not the answer you were hoping for, but it sets out the legal position.

All the best.

AL

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

In regards action the landlord could take against me for non payment of rent what could this be? If for example it was to take me to small claims court would a judge there not review the reasons I left and pass the costs onto the wife who is still in the flat. What are the relevant acts and sections of this part of the law to me to review in regards to my question please. What is the process of taking my wife to court if I have to pay the rent and what would i have to prove ? This is what I need to know to make decisions. Thanks

Expert:  Aston Lawyer replied 2 years ago.

Hi Peter,

Thanks for your reply.

By signing the Tenancy Agreement, you entered into a Contract with the Landlord to be responsible for the rent during the Tenancy period. Unless the Landlord had released you from this obligation at the time you left, you are still bound by the "Contract" you signed with the Landlord. The fact you came to an "agreement" with your wife is irrelevant when looking at your liability under the Tenancy Agreement.
Therefore, if the Landlord did take you to the small claims Court for non payment of rent, you would not be able to use the fact that your wife had agreed to pay the rent in full as a defence.
The law relating to Assured Shorthold Tenancies is the Housing Act 1988, but your question is relating to straight forward Contract law.

As regards taking your wife to Court, this would be on the grounds that you are both jointly responsible for the rent and furthermore that there had been a "breach of trust" in that you took action and vacated on the grounds that she would pay the rent. You would have to sue her in the small claims court for the rent- you can also claim for interest pursuant to s.69 of the County Courts Act 1984 at 8% per annum on the money owed and can be done online at www.moneyclaim.gov.uk
Before any Court action is taken, you do need to write to her first, informing her of your proposed action and giving her 7 days to pay.

I hope this clarifies matters for you.

Kind Regards
AL
Expert:  Aston Lawyer replied 2 years ago.
Hi Peter,

Can I be of any more assistance to you?

Kind Regards
AL
Expert:  Aston Lawyer replied 2 years ago.
Hi Peter,

Can I be of any more assistance to you?

Kind Regards
AL

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