Joint tenancies for council tenants

A joint tenancy is when two or more people sign a tenancy agreement and jointly agree to keep to its conditions.

Important aspects of joint tenancies

A joint tenancy means that you and the other tenant are equally responsible for all conditions of the agreement, including paying the rent.

  • You are both responsible for paying the rent even if one of you moves out. As long as you remain a joint tenant, you are responsible for that tenancy. Any breach of the tenancy agreement is the responsibility of both tenants.
  • If one of you signs a termination form ending the tenancy, the whole tenancy will end, even if the other tenant does not know about the form. This only applies to a secure tenancy.
  • If you have rent arrears when the joint tenancy ends both tenants are responsible for paying them off. If one person won't pay their share, we will require the other person to pay in full.

We recommend you take independent legal advice from the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB), law centre or solicitor before getting a joint tenancy.

Why you might want a joint tenancy

You may want to add someone who already lives with you, or who will be moving in with you, to your tenancy. This may include your:

• husband, wife or civil partner, or someone you live with as if they were your husband, wife or civil partner;

• mother or father; or brother or sister.

You need to apply for a joint tenancy and get our written permission. .

Before we agree to your application, you need to pay off any rent arrears and sign a 'termination of tenancy' notice to end your sole tenancy, and send the notice to us. Your new joint tenancy will start on the day your sole tenancy ends.

If the person applying to be a joint tenant with you holds a tenancy somewhere else, they must pay off any rent arrears for that property before we can consider them for a joint tenancy.

When we do not give permission

We will not give you permission for a joint tenancy if, you or the proposed tenant:

  • are already an existing tenant elsewhere.
  • has been evicted for antisocial behaviour or rent arrears within the last five years.
  • the proposed tenant would make your home overcrowded.
  • are barred from the housing register. 
  • has a record of antisocial behaviour or certain criminal convictions or both.

Other grounds for refusal include:

  • the proposed tenant has the right to succeed to the tenancy if you die (does not include a spouse or partner). 
  • the proposed joint tenant is a family member from a different generation for example your son or granddaughter.
  • we have already started legal action against you because you have breached your sole tenancy agreement. 
  • the proposed joint tenant does not have the legal right to live in the UK.

Ending a joint tenancy

Ending a joint tenancy is your responsibility. You should seek independent legal advice. When one of you dies, the remaining spouse or partner can succeed to the tenancy, but only if neither of you had succeeded to it in the first place.

Joint to sole tenancy

A joint tenancy can sometimes become a sole tenancy:

  1. In some circumstances, one joint tenant can end a joint tenancy and we will then grant a new sole tenancy. However, all joint tenants and us must agree to this plan.
  2. If the other joint tenant has not lived in the property for over 12 months, you must try your best to contact them, and you must tell us where they are. If neither you nor we can make contact with them, we may accept a termination of tenancy from you (as the remaining tenant) and may grant you a new sole tenancy in line with our allocations policy.
  3. Through the court system via the Family Law Act 1996 or as part of divorce proceedings under the Matrimonial Law Act in a court of law or as part of proceedings under the Children Act 1989. We cannot change a joint tenancy, nor take sides in any dispute. If your relationship breaks down, we cannot exclude one joint tenant from the tenancy, nor change locks to stop a joint tenant getting in. If the relationship does break down, it is very important that you seek independent legal advice as soon as possible.

Page owner: Caroline Ottery. Last updated: 08/08/2017 09:24

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