Joint Tenancy: Protection Against Eviction When Sharing Accommodation

What is joint tenancy?

This would normally refer to a group of people sharing the tenancy of a certain property.

There are two ways to speak of joint tenancy.

One, is this sharing of accommodation is, more often than not, arranged in such a way that all are equally responsible for the obligations of tenancy. In this case, the persons in the joint tenancy arrangement are known to each other and are actually signing as one.

Another form of Joint tenancy or shared accommodation is also used to refer to a so called HMO or house in multiple occupations. In this arrangement, the tenants live together but they are not related or known to each other. In this case they are not jointly responsible for the obligations of the other tenants.

What are the implications of such arrangements for payments due to the landlord?

Both situations create a bit of difficulty on the landlord’s side.

In the case where each tenant is responsible, it can be argued that fees can be charged on one (usually the easiest to find) for the account of all.

But this introduces the concept of fair play where it certainly is not fair to hold and punish those who have been paying their share, for the non-payment of others. While legally there may be some remedies for the landlord, going after the paying ones is not usually a good option.

Moreover, since only one contract was signed for all, then the landlord cannot evict just one. All must be evicted in this case and this can bring about a long string of problems for the landlord.

If the tenants give their payments at different times, this can also be a source of headache for the landlord of a joint tenancy under one contract. This is because the acceptance of payment from one or some may be seen as the acceptance of the rent, however little it may be.

In the case of a house in multiple occupation, the landlord may in fact be in a better situation since they could evict a single one since multiple contracts are signed. However, this may introduce other special problems as bringing in an unknown tenant in such a house in multiple occupation, which may result to domestic problems which could have serious repercussions. It also makes it more difficult to determine who is responsible for what since all are considered independent of each other.

Is there a better arrangement for the tenants?

It really depends on the tenants themselves. Whilst initially it may seem as though the better solution is for the joint tenants to each be solely responsible for their own share.  The domestic problems and the question of accountability remains a big concern.

All things considered, it may still be better to have one single contract for all since it would definitely make it harder to get evicted.

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For more information on:

  • What is an ideal arrangement for both tenant and landlord?
  • Would this arrangement affect the eviction process?