The Joint and several liability tenancy contract
The following article is an explanation of what is called a joint and several liability contract. This is sometimes called an ‘all sums’ contract.
- Under this type of agreement the landlord or his agent may pursue any obligation in the tenancy against any one party as if they were jointly liable. This means if the rent falls due and is not paid any tenant to the contract can be pursued for the full amount. The same applies to damage, if one joint tenant does damage to the property which needs to be paid for the landlord or his agent can pursue any joint tenant or any guarantor for any costs to be met under the agreement in full
- Under this type of agreement the full rent for the property is always due to the landlord or his agent by the rent demand due date on the tenancy agreement and it is the responsibility of the joint tenants to sort out their respective proportions of liability and payment amongst themselves.
- This means that if the landlord or his agent pursues one joint tenant and receives any payment due under the tenancy agreement, that joint tenant must then pursue the other joint tenants for a contribution to their share of the liability.
- This will apply to rent and all fees due under the agreement that any one party to the agreement can be chased solely for payment. This applies equally to tenants and guarantors.
- If a joint and several agreement cannot be maintained the landlord has reserved the right as part of the tenancy agreement to chase each signatory independently, including any guarantors for the full repayment of the outstanding balance of the defaulted agreement. This means all signatories are fully liable for the outstanding debt.
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 £1400 per month.
They will no doubt have agreed between themselves that they will each pay £350 per month. However, if one of the four tenants, Mark, then stops paying his share (for example, if he leaves the house) the landlord is entitled to claim the outstanding rent from any of the tenants, not just from Mark. The landlord is not bound by the tenants' own agreement to pay £350 each. So if one of the tenants, say John, is wealthy, the landlord can sue just John, and get a judgment against him for the outstanding rent, even though he has paid his share.
Also, if the landlord has taken a guarantee from the students' parents (as is often done in student lets), he can normally claim the whole of any outstanding rent from any one parent guarantor, as the parent will effectively be guaranteeing the whole of the rent, not just his son's share.
In the vast majority of cases, Joint and several liability agreements are repaid in full without any difficulties or recourse to legal action. Please consult a solicitor or a citizens advice bureau if you require further clarification on the type of agreement you have signed.
Giving notice on a joint and several tenancy
If you rent the property joint and severally, we will accept any notice to end the tenancy from any member of that group, even if the remaining members who want to stay outnumber those who want to leave. For more information, please see this article which explains the process and applicable fees.