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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 49855
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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Ben. You helped me with an issue back in July. The situation

Customer Question

Hi Ben. You helped me with an issue back in July. The situation has worsened and I would like some further advice. Would you be able to help?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.
Hello, my name is***** am a solicitor on this site and it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. I will certainly try and help if you can please provide some details of your new query?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Where is your reply? All I have had back from you is my question?

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.
Hello please see my initial post above asking you to explain your new query about this in more detail thanks
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Please see previous order number 15453570-427 for the background to this enquiry

You may recall that my partner’s daughter (Selena) had entered into a house sharing agreement with 3 other students (Megs, Sophie and Eoufi) and prior to signing the agreement the issue of which student would occupy which room was verbally agreed. As a result of this agreement, my partner along with the other parents acted as guarantors, each being responsible for future rental payments for all students and for any damage caused by any of the students.

The background to the 4 girls agreeing to house share was based on them having known each other for a year, socialising together, partying together and communicating with each other throughout that year as friends. They had talked enthusiastically about cooking together in their new home and enjoying those home cooked meals together.

After signing the contract with the landlord, the 3 other girls, who are all medical students (Selena isn’t a medical student, reneged on the verbal agreement and insisted on drawing straws to see who had which room. They were not prepared to draw straws before the agreement was signed with the landlord. We were unhappy about doing so post contract as Selena had only agreed to share on the basis that the room they had verbally agreed she would have, (the downstairs room) would indeed be occupied by her. Unfortunately, the bullying tactics of the 3 girls and their parents was such that Selena eventually agreed to draw straws in the hope that life would get back to normality if she succumbed to their pressure.

When the straws were drawn, Eoufi who was the main influence behind the enforced changes, ended up with the room she had originally said she didn’t want, which was coincidently the downstairs room which Selena did want. Somewhat bizarrely, Selena ended up with the room that Eoufi had originally agreed to take! Consequently, Selena offered to swap, but Eoufi had obviously dug a hole for herself and could not, at that stage, back down.

Since then, the atmosphere in the house has substantially deteriorated with Selena being ostracised by all three girls and excluded at every turn. There have been petty practical jokes and attempts to enforce other changes for example that Selena should not wash her hair in the morning and changing agreed housekeeping rota’s.

The other 3 girls have local boyfriends who continuously visit and who do not acknowledge Selena at all even to the point where they would take up a space around the dining table and not allow Selena to enjoy her meal at the table as there is no space for her. They have moved her food around in the fridge despite Selena’s specific instructions to them not to touch her stuff.

Selena’s room does not have a wardrobe and her clothes have to be kept outside her room in an unlocked cupboard that has to be accessed by the other girls in order to turn on the shower in the bathroom. She naturally fears that her belongings will be tampered with.

When my partner entered into the agreement to act as a guarantor for these girls, it was with the expectation and belief that there would be a harmonious exciting home which all of the girls would enjoy and that they would continue to enjoy each other’s company without friction. It was also on the understanding that Selena would be living in the room she had entered into an amicable verbal agreement to have.

The situation is now untenable as a direct result of the change in behaviour of the girls and consequent and understandable breakdown of her trust in them. When signing as a guarantor, it was on the basis that the relationship they had enjoyed over the past year would prevail and their conduct and behaviour was implicit to signing that contract. They are after all medical students and one would expect a high standard of ethics from them.

My partner is tied into the contract with the landlord but is now of the opinion that Selena needs to move out. The other girls behaviour is affecting her health and her ability to concentrate on her studies. She will not pay any further rent or utility bills. Were she to take this action it would leave the other parents in the position of having to cover Selena’s share of the rent as guarantors. They would then presumably have to take court action to recover their increased outlay from my partner.

My question is therefore, is there a good defence against them winning the court hearing on the basis that it is they who have contrived to engineer this outcome?

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

I still cannot see your response...I can only see my that you have asked for more detail. What more can I give you?

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.
Ok thank you I will review all the information and get back to you. As I am in court today it may not be until tomorrow but I will get back to you as soon as I can thanks
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Ok Ben Thanks

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.
No problem thanks for your understanding
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.
Hello, thanks for your patience. I managed to get some time this evening to deal with this so hope it finds you in good time. I must say you are on somewhat shaky ground here. First of all, it is not a contract with the other girls that your daughter has – it is with the landlord. You have also acted as guarantor for that and your relationship is with the landlord. So you stopping the payments would result in a breach of contract with the landlord, not with the other tenants. Therefore, it is the landlord who would be able to pursue you for this and you cannot hold them liable for the issues that have arisen. This is on the assumption that the contract does not state that in the event one tenant defaults, the remaining would become responsible for their liabilities. But I would presume this is not the case because that is the whole point of having a guarantor as you would be stepping in to cover her liabilities. If my presumption about the contents of the contract is wrong please correct me but if it is not then you would not be forcing the other tenants or their parents to cover your daughter’s payments, it simply give the landlord the right to pursue you for them, which they would be entirely within their right to do.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thanks Ben. The contract says that where the Tenant is more than one person, the Tenants are jointly and severally responsible and liable for all obligations under this agreement.

Joint and several is defined " where the tenant is more than one person, the tenants covenants are joint and several. The expression joint and several means that jointly the tenants are responsible for the payment of all rent and liabilities falling upon the tenants during the tenancy or any extension of it as well as any breach of the agreement until all debts have been discharged in full. Consequently each guarantor is jointly liable for the payment of all rents and all liabilities falling upon the tenants during the tenancy as well as any breach of the agreement. Individually, each guarantor is responsible for the payment of all rent and liabilities falling upon the tenants during the tenancy until all payments have been made in full. A maximum of 4 people can be such joint tenants.

Does this change your answer?

If it doesn't, is there a legal remedy for dealing with the other 3 girls that would bring a satisfactory conclusion?

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.
Thank you yes that's fine, it would change my original answer somewhat. So they would be responsible for her share of the rent although it would still be a breach of contract with the landlord and he can choose whether to rely on that clause and get the rent from the rest (the easier option) or pursue you for it (the more difficult one but the one against which you would not really have a strong defence).
As to the situation where the others may pursue you, there is still no defence which would guarantee you walk away victorious should a claim be made against you. Yes, there are factors which will help you such as their behaviour but that in itself may not be enough, especially as the outcome of such a claim would really depend on how a judge sees the overall situation and its seriousness and try can never guarantee that one person's opinion will match the expectations too have to provide he outcome you desire. That is why there is always a risk in such proceedings because one judge on one day could have a totally different opinion to another on a different day.
Therefore the best way to resolve this m, if she is intent on leaving, is to try and find a replacement tenant who would be able to move in to her room and take over her liabilities. Failure to do that will always expose you to a degree of risk should the others decide to take legal action to challenge your actions.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.
Hello, I see you have read my response to your query. Please let me know if this has answered your original question or if you need me to clarify anything else for you in relation to this? If your query has been dealt with please take a second to leave a positive rating by selecting 3, 4 or 5 starts from the top of the page. If you need further help please get back to me on here and I will assist as best as I can. Thank you.