What to do if one tenant wants to leave a joint tenancy

T1 & T2 sign a tenancy agreement for a joint tenancy and T1 decides to leave what should you as the landlord do?

If the tenancy is still in the fixed term you cannot unilaterally do anything. You cannot delete one of the names from tenancy agreement. You can however either:

a. allow a formal legal assignment (by deed) of the existing tenancy, from T1+T2 to T2; or

b. agree a surrender of old tenancy (by both T1 & T2 to you) in exchange for a new one which you grant to T2 alone.

The tenants undertook joint and several liability so each are jointly and severally liable for the terms of the tenancy. This binds both T1 & T2 for the rest of the tenancy unless you agree to the assignment or surrender as above. If the fixed term has ended or ending soon, you could grant a new tenancy to T2. It is worth noting that this would be a ‘new’ tenancy and not a ‘replacement’ tenancy.

Before you allow any assignment or surrender consider any financial implications particularly the affordability of the rent for the remaining tenant.

What should T1 do if they want to leave?

If the tenancy is still in the fixed term get agreement from T2 to the assignment or surrender of the tenancy and inform your landlord when you have done so. The landlord is under no obligation to release you but if you have the agreement of T2 and the landlord is satisfied T2 can meet the conditions of the tenancy such as being able to afford the rent, he might consider your request.

If the fixed term has ended or ending soon, give the landlord the contractual or statutory notice you intend to leave and surrender the tenancy (hand back the keys). The landlord would then need to decide whether he wanted to grant a new tenancy to T2.

Have you experienced problems with a tenant leaving a joint tenancy?

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