Hi! I’m in an assured shorthold tenancy and 6 months has elapsed out of 12.
My partner unexpectedly walked out on me and is refusing to help with the costs of the house. I am also really not in a position to move (quite severe back injury).
He has signed himself off the lease, but has been informed he needs my signature so i can accept the role as lead tenant, as i am currently listed as tenant two.
It will take me a couple of months before I am literally back on my feet – is he liable to help with the rent if i don’t sign? If i do sign and become liable i’m almost certain I can’t make enough money on time. I’m currently on sick pay and housing benefit and have debts building fast just to cover basic expenses.
We borrowed £2500 from family during our stay here for house improvements and the deposit – he has offered 1200 gbp to be taken off the lease, but has since withdrawn that offer. Please help!
I am not sure exactly what you mean by saying that your partner has ‘signed himself off the lease’. Generally when you sign a tenancy you are liable under it for the rest of the term.
No changes can be done to the tenancy agreement without your consent as joint tenant.
I assume that the signature you are being asked to make is for a new tenancy as sole tenant. This is not in your interests to sign as once this is signed he will no longer be liable for the rent.
During the fixed term
If the tenancy remains unchanged then the landlord is entitled to claim rent from both you and your partner (even though he is no longer living at the property). Under a ‘joint and several’ tenancy, which you will have, you are both liable for the rent together and individually.
What this actually means is that the landlord, if he goes to court, can sue either both of you together or just one of you for the whole lot.
If you pay all the rent, you may be legally entitled to claim back any rent you paid the landlord over and above your ‘share’ from your former partner. But this would depend on what agreement you had reached with him in the first place (ie when you moved in) about paying the rent.
After the fixed term
When the fixed term of the tenancy has ended, then your former partner can serve a ‘Notice to Quit’ on the landlord which will end the tenancy completely and therefore effectively end his liability under it.
If you then stayed on and paid rent which was accepted by the landlord, a new tenancy would be created automatically under s54(2) of the Law of Property At 1925. However from then on you would be sole tenant and responsible for all the rent.
Note that if you are evicted you may, in view of your particular circumstances (in particular your back injury) be entitled to be re-housed by the Local Authority. You may want to approach them and have a word about it.