A tenancy is a legally binding contract. It is important that all tenants who enter into the contract understand the terms and conditions. These terms and conditions are contained in your tenancy agreement.
A joint tenancy is where two or more adults sign the tenancy agreement. As a joint tenant you are jointly and severally liable for the tenancy. This is a legal term which means that you are collectively and individually responsible. For example, each tenant is responsible for all of the rent. If one of the joint tenants stops paying their share, we can request all of the rent from the other joint tenant.
A breach of tenancy by one tenant is the responsibility of all the tenants. Ending of the tenancy by one tenant ends the tenancy for all the tenants.
Please contact your Housing Officer if you would like to hold a joint tenancy.
Advantages of a joint tenancy
- Joint tenants have equal rights with the other tenant(s), giving all joint tenants security of tenure.
- Having a joint tenancy may help meet the costs of the tenancy, such as the rent.
- If the other joint tenant dies you will have a right to succeed to the tenancy. However, there can only be one succession.
- One joint tenant may 'assign' (or gift) their interest in the tenancy to the other joint tenant(s). This is provided that certain rules have been satisfied. We can give you more information about these rules upon request.
Disadvantages of a joint tenancy
- If one joint tenant does not pay the rent or money owed, the other joint tenant(s) are still responsible for the debt. This can be a problem if you are on a low income.
- Having a joint tenancy may not be suitable if you are not sure that living with the other person will work out. This is important, as all joint tenants have equal rights to the tenancy.
- If one joint tenant gives Notice to Quit, the whole of the tenancy comes to an end. This leaves the other joint tenant(s) without a tenancy.
- All joint tenants must agree to any proposed exchange. This applies even if one of the joint tenants has left. If the other joint tenant(s) cannot be traced, then the exchange will not be allowed to go ahead.
- A sole tenant's entitlement to benefits may be affected by becoming a joint tenant with someone else.
Changing a joint tenancy to a sole tenancy
In some circumstances, one joint tenant can end a joint tenancy and the Council will then grant a new sole tenancy. The decision to award a new tenancy is at the direction of the Council - we do not have to agree to grant a new tenancy. Please contact your Housing Officer to discuss this option in further detail.
Through the court system via the acts noted below, we cannot change a joint tenancy, nor take sides in any dispute. If your relationship breaks down, we cannot exclude one joint tenant from the tenancy, nor change locks to stop a joint tenant getting in. If the relationship does break down, it is very important that you seek independent legal advice as soon as possible.
- Family Law Act 1996
- as part of divorce proceedings under the Matrimonial Law Act in a court of law
- as part of proceedings under the Children Act 1989.