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Forthcoming tenancy agreement concerns

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183 views 3 replies latest reply: 14 June 2016
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Tenant

Hi.

My Boyfriend and I moved (into a double room in the property rented out by the estate agency on behalf of the landlord) on 26th October 2015.

After 7 and a half months of being here, we are now all going onto a joint tenancy agreement. This is because a previous tenant left without paying her rent due. There is 6 tenants all together.

On Sunday 12th June, the go between tenant (he’s point of contact between us and the agency – we pay the rent into his account and he pays it on, only last month he held back paying the agency, and they were asking where our rent was! I was livid until I discovered he hadn’t paid it in on time) presented only me with a joint tenancy agreement, assuming I was going to sign there and then!  I said I want to read it first.

What I discovered is my boyfriend is excluded from this so called joint tenancy agreement, despite us being told we have to contribute to the shortfall of the rent not paid by this ex tenant, even though we’ve not signed anything, and gone nearly 8 months with no written legal information.

I said I won’t sign it, and the go between said why? I replied my boyfriend’s name was excluded despite me going into the agency in person on the 27th May with both our required references and payslips, and emailing photos of our passport photos. My boyfriend has emailed the estate agents to amend the agreement accordingly.

Q1: Shouldn’t we all each get a copy of the joint tenancy agreement? 

I’m uncomfortable signing an agreement, and not having a copy to refer to

 We were informed, despite paying our deposit to the previous tenant in the room we rent, we will receive our deposit when we leave. I don’t understand how the agency can find money to do that, but it will be a huge comfort to know we’ll get it back. 

Q2: If the tenancy agreement mentions all tenants deposits are protected, should we each receive a tendency deposit certificate? If not, can we ask for details of where our deposit is? 

Q3: I’m not sure what protection we as tenants will have on this agreement.

Q4: Should the signing of this contract be witnessed by a legal representative?

All I know is we paid an outgoing tenant our deposit, and we’ve had no tenancy agreement for months – and now we’ve been told we’ll all be responsible for paying the rent of others if they leave without paying rent.

Seems to me, the agency are only concerned about getting the money. I can’t see any protection, just more hassle.

So confusing! 

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Service provider

Hi Fiona,
 
Do NOT sign the joint tenancy agreement. You are on a valid sole tenancy agreement and they cannot force you to sign a new agreement of any type, either sole or joint. If you sign the joint tenancy this will make any one of you jointly and severally liable for all of the rent, and finding replacement tenants from then on! Generally a joint tenancy for larger groups of tenants is only a good idea for a short fixed term tenancy, eg a student let.
 
However, if you do all decide that you wish to have a joint tenancy, then you all need to arrange to sign it together at the same time, so no-one can claim not to have agreed after you have signed.
 
You should have received the full prescribed information from the agent, not just the deposit protection certificate. If you did not receive this, the landlord/agent is not permitted to serve a s21 notice on you until he returns your deposit. You can also claim via the courts if necessary, for the landlord to pay you a penalty of 1-3 times the amount of the deposit. A sensible agent will usually try and settle with you without any need to go to court.
 
I recommend that you put in writing that you wish to remain on your sole SPT. Also request confirmation that your deposit has been protected and details of the scheme. I wouldn’t mention the term ‘prescribed information’ for now, as this may set alarm bells ringing and they may not respond or say no deposit was received.  
 
John

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Tenant

Hi John,

 

Thanks for your reply. 

I’ve sought ought specialist advice on the matter via a service provided to staff through our Employers. 

I was advised, as you did, NOT to sign this joint tenancy agreement. It would make us liable for this rent shortfall they are wanting back, and the only way is through a joint tenancy.

My boyfriend contacted them to ask why he was omitted from the agreement, and the agency reply was they only needed one name since we’re renting as a couple, and to make me sign it ASAP. They said that they took his references and copy of ID to ensure they have the names of all the tenants in the house, but took it upon themselves to include just me. 

There are two Italian brothers who share the same room, and they are both included on the agreement, they should be classed as a couple surely?

(they are on the contract that the agency initially only required 3 names on the contract) but since there’s been a lot of different tenants coming and going over time, they want everyoneon it.

The information specialist said it’s all a mess, and strongly advise we get out of here. We should’ve been put on the tenancy agreement when we moved in back on the 26th October 2015. We are not responsible for shortfall in a previous tenants rent. 

We have NO tenancy agreement of any sort agreeing to this. 

The ‘arrangement’ in this house was when a tenant wishes to leave, they find someone to replace them, and get their deposit back in the form of the incoming tenants paying their deposit directly to the outgoing tenant. 

I cannot see any advantage to myself and my boyfriend as tenants by signing a joint tenancy agreement, it would only make us financially liable for missing rent.

 

Our £600 deposit was not protected by the agency registering it with a scheme, it was given to a previous tenant.

We’ve lost £600 – and it’s very unlilkely we’ll get it back…so where’s the protection there? Where’s the rights of us as tenants? There isn’t any.

 

They (the agency/landlord) didn’t care about us when I reported the mold back in January. They arranged two contractors to look at the mold issue, then 3-4 scheduled landlord inspections were cancelled at the last minute. 

Then in April, the tenant who left suddenly and didn’t pay her rent, or find a replacement, and now the agency wants us to be responsible to pay for her lack of payment, and anyone else that may disappear without paying rent.

 

Information specialist said we can ask for just my boyfriend and I to be on our own contract instead of a joint one. 

If the Estate agents try and take us to court, the courts wouldn’t be on their side, as they’d have to provide we were on an agreement, and they can’t prove that.

 

All this has caused serious impact on my mental and physical health. I attempted an overdose yesterday.

I wish we could just leave and find a place of our own that protects us legally, is mold free.

 

 

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Service provider

Hi Fiona,

You have a valid tenancy agreement, with all the protection that goes with it, so don’t sign another. Even if your boyfriend is not named on your original fixed term agreement, he is still legally an assured shorthold tenant.

If the tenancy deposit mentions that your deposit is protected, then as I said, ask the agent in writing which scheme it is protected in and for the reference number.

Presumably, you were asked to give your deposit to the outgoing tenant because the agent is holding the original tenant’s deposit, which is now your’s?

If he has not re-protected the deposit in YOUR name then you may claim to be awarded the penalty.

John

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