How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site. Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Joshua Your Own Question
Joshua, Lawyer
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 26070
Experience:  LL.B (Hons), Higher Prof. Dip. Law & Practice
Type Your Property Law Question Here...
Joshua is online now

I live in a house with a joint assured shorthold tenancy

This answer was rated:

Hi I live in a house with a joint assured shorthold tenancy which end in December 2017. When I moved in I moved with 3 other people and our deposit was put into the deposit protection scheme under our names. However, two of them have moved out several months ago with the landlords consent. They found replacement people for themselves and got their share of the deposit off the new people.
Assistant: Where are you located? It matters because laws vary by location.
Customer: However, the landlord was lazy and haven't got the new people to sing contract and did not register their name in the deposit protection scheme. At the beginning of the month one of the new people, George, moved out and said that he is not going to be looking for a replacement person because he has never signed a contract. But he wants his deposit back. This has resulted in the letting agent telling us to move out and he didn't accept that we would find a new person to replace George. Is George entitled the deposit? The house is in London
Assistant: Has anything been filed or reported?
Customer: Reported to who?
Assistant: Anything else you want the solicitor to know before I connect you?
Customer: no, thanks

Hello and thank you for your question. I will be very pleased to assist you. I'm a practising lawyer in England with over 10 years experience.

  1. May I ask if your original fixed tenancy term has expired?
  2. Does the landlord provide any services like cleaning or cooking to you?
  3. Do you share occupation with the landlord?
  4. Do you wish to stay at the property?
Customer: replied 9 months ago.
1. No, it has not. It runs until December 2017.
2. No, he doesn't. Like we have a kitchen which we can all access.
3. No
4. Originally, we wanted. But the letting agent said that he won't allow any new people to move in and therefore we are now in process of moving out as we can't pay the rent without having 4 people in the house.

Thank you. Has the agent confirmed you will not be liable for rent any longer once you have all moved out?

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
The letting agent said in an email to us that once we move out and hand the property back that that will bring the agreement to end.

Thanks - keep that email because without it technically the landlord could continue to demand rent even after you have moved out until the end of the term.

You will be aware, Landlord cannot require you to move out prior to the end of your minimum term but I recognise the issue you have with regards ***** ***** joint and several tenancies can get very complicated legally when tenants swap and change. Based on what you describe here, the legal position is that if the landlord never formally released the original tenant the left who jointly signed the tenancy agreement with you then that original tenant remains jointly liable with the rest of the original tenants rent. Accordingly, if the replacement tenant leaves, the landlord can demand rent from the rest of you but those of you that remain and pay the rent would have a claim against the original tenant that is left if they have not been formally released from tenancy as you will be effectively covering their share to which they are still Liable.

On a separate note, the new tenant George in paying rent to the landlord has created an implied tenancy for a minimum of six months Which is separate to joint agreement you signed and the landlord could similarly claim rent even if he leaves without the landlords permission however you are not able to enforce this agreement as you are not a party to it so this does not assist you.

In terms of your options, you could decide to stay if you believe you could collect the rent owed from the original tenant that left if you still have their contact details. As above, the landlord cannot insist that you leave before the end of your minimum term. Alternatively, you may feel the least complex option is to agree to leave the property despite not having to do so as you are currently doing and providing you have a clear email from the agents that you will not be liable for any more rent once you have moved out, you can do this safely.

Landlord is required to return the deposit less any deductions for damages and is either required to return the deposit to the lead tenant if this is provided for under the tenancy agreement who then subsequently distributes the deposit equally between the joint tenants. Alternatively, if the tenancy agreement does not provide for the above, the landlord must return the deposit to each person paid their share of the deposit individually. If part of the deposit belongs to George because he repaid the original tenant for their original contribution, then it follows that George will be entitled to a share of the deposit on the above basis.

Does the above answer all your questions? If it does, I should be very grateful if you would kindly take a moment to click a rating for my service to you today. Your feedback is important to me. If there is anything else I can help with please reply back to me though

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
The original tenant was released from the joint tenancy as the letting agent allowed him to move out on the basis that he found a replacement person for himself.Can I claim any compensation against George? Because his irresponsible behavior forced us seeking new house, getting a legal advice, etc. He didn't even tell us that he is moving out. He just moved out and then told the letting agent that he wants his deposit back. He was told that he can't get it without us moving out, unless he finds a replacement person which he refused to do.
He is now to contributing to cleaning the house, making sure it is in its original state. Also, I have no proofed that he paid the deposit to the outgoing tenant. I suspect he did that but I have paper trail of that. And I am the lead tenant.
Customer: replied 9 months ago.
He is not conributing
Customer: replied 9 months ago.
I have no prof that that he paid the deposit to the outgoing tenant. I suspect he did that but I have no paper trail of that.

That does not amount to a release. It is commonly assumed it does but a release must take the form of a formal document which is rarely carried out. Unless he has a formal Deed of release or release agreement then he will still be bound by the terms of the original tenancy. The difficulty is with joint tenancies is agent (and landlords with no legal experience dabble and play around leaving behind a complicated web of legal relations which the courts have to unpick if there is a formal dispute. Comparatively few situations end up in the courts but the above is the legal position.

There is no basis to claim compensation against George as you have no contract with him. Your claim will be against the original tenant however odd that may seem on the above basis. The landlord will have a claim against George but you cannot force the landlord to pursue him. He will be liable to pay his fair share of cleaning costs and any damage costs for the house which will be deducted equally from his deposit along with yours.

Does the above answer all your questions or is there anything I can clarify or help you with any further?

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
Thank you.So could I return the share of the deposit to the person who left the house? As there is no deed of release. And then George would have to claim it from them?

Technically you could if the deposit comes back to you as you have no agreement with George. You could return the deposit to that original tenant - it is the original tenant that has responsibility to return it to George.

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
Okay, great. And could I then deduce those things I mentioned. Getting legal advice, taking time off work to find a new place, etc.

That is more difficult. You could of course and say to the person that if they are not happy about it they can pursue you for the balance. There is however no obvious breach of contract on the part of that person. You could choose to remain in the property and look to that original tenant for the rent. As you have chosen (Albeit I appreciate because you have no choice) To leave the property,, it is difficult to see how you would sustain a claim for the course you mention is the consequence of that decision. If the individual decided to take the matter to court, I believe they would be successful in recovering any pallets you retained I regret.

Is there anything else I can help you with above?

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
Well, I rather move out than to sue some old tenant for rent.So this George is basically laughing, because he forced us to move out as the letting agent wouldn't allow us to find replacement and even though he is doing nothing to sort this situation out he is entitled to his deposit?
Customer: replied 9 months ago.
Also, one more question please. What if the old housemate has a written agreement with letting agent about moving out. Does it need to be signed by George as well for it to be valid?

I quite understand. George has a contractual relationship with the landlord. He is liable to the landlord but if the landlord is not motivated to enforce terms against him, in terms of Georges relationship with you, your characterisation is not unfounded - he is liable in respect of any cleaning or damage but to you nothing beyond that.

Whether George signed any agreement between the landlord and the tenant that left is unlikely to be of any significance. Unless the outgoing tenant has a express deed or contract of release which is a very formal document not just a letter, he will still be bound by the terms of the tenancy until the tenancy ends. It needs to be signed by the landlord and that is the important component. In my experience, it is very rare for agents or landlords to issue these are release in no small part because they do not appreciate that they are required but also because there is little advantage to the landlord in doing so because if he doesn't issue one, he can still pursue the outgoing tenant rents if the replacement tenant fails to pay.

Is there anything above I can clarify for you

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
thank you, that's helpful. You know when the agency will try to deduce any amount from the deposit claiming cleaning or damage cost, I read that all tenants have to agree to that. Should I seek the agreement from the tenant who have moved out or from George? Providing there is no deed or contract of release.
Customer: replied 9 months ago.
I have just spoken with the tenant who has moved out and he said that when he moved out he has signed a release contract with the landlord. Sorry I was not aware of that. But George has never signed the contract. So does that changes the situation?

If it was a release contract (and that is a very specific document) then it does change the position. If that is the case you would have two separate agreements - one with the landlord with just the remaining tenants including you and a separate agreement between George and the Landlord. The change is not a beneficial one from your point of view and it does little to change the position from your perspective and the position remains as above except that the deposit would not have to be returned to the outgoing tenant as you suggest. Equally you do not have to give it to George has you have no agreement with him. Strictly speaking George would hav to claim against the tenant that left and that tenant against you. Contractually it is very messy.

Is there anything else can help you with?

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
Okay, so even though the outgoing tenant has been released from the contract the fact that his name and not George's is on the deposit protection scheme means that I don't have to give the money to George but I would have to give them to the outgoing tenant if he makes a claim?

I do not pretend it is anything other than a mess but this is generally the case when agents and landlords meddle with tenancy agreements they don't really understand. So yes from what you say the left tenant has already been paid so he has no claim on the deposit. George paid through the left tenant so Georges only claim is against him not you. So the left tenant can only raise a claim to the deposit if George raises a claim against the left tenant. So to recover if you are not willing to pay him directly, George would have to claim from left tenant and left tenant from you.

Does the above answer all your questions or is there anything I can clarify or help you with any further?

Joshua and other Property Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 9 months ago.
Okay, thank you for the clarification.