Who pays the rent if a tenant moves out?

Tessa Shepperson, a legal expert in residential landlord and tenancy law, discusses a tenant's liability for rent when more than one person has signed the tenancy agreement.

When more than one tenant has signed a tenancy agreement, then the general rule is that all of the tenants will be 'jointly and severally' liable for the rent.

For example, say four students (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) are renting a house together and they all sign the same tenancy agreement for a total rent of £400 per month.

They will, no doubt, have agreed between themselves that they will each pay £100 per month.

But if one of the four tenants, Mark, stops paying his share (e.g. if he leaves the house), you, as the landlord, are entitled to claim the outstanding rent from any of the tenants, and not just from Mark.

You're not bound by the tenants' own agreement to pay £100 each. So if one of the tenants, say John, is wealthy, you can sue just John, and get a judgment against him for the rent arrears, even though he has paid his share.

Also, if you have taken a guarantee from the students' parents (as is often done in student lets), you can normally claim the whole amount of any rent arrears from any one parent guarantor, as the parent will effectively be guaranteeing the whole of the rent, and not just his son's share.

This can be avoided by limiting the guarantor's liability, for example, to a specified sum of money.

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Published on: July 1, 2008

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