Question

Does a tenancy exist if a couple separate and the departed gives valid notice which has expired, but neither have handed back keys or given full vacant possession?

by | 17 Oct 2016

A friend of mine was in a joint assured shorthold tenancy in Wales which commenced 3rd Oct 2015 ( initial fixed term until 2nd April 2016). Her partner left her recently and without her knowledge delivered in person a hand written notice to quit dated 2nd Sep 2016 stating “I hereby give 1 months notice to terminate the tenancy of the above property.”

The agent advised her/the remaining tenant that this was not valid – I think on the misassumption that notice was required from her too. However, I understand that one joint tenant can terminate a tenancy once the fixed term has expired, without even informing any other joint tenant and therefore the notice was valid?

My friend is now able to move into alternative accommodation in the next few days. The agent stated that she also needs to give notice, but are happy to make both her and her former partner liable only up to the point where she moves out provided that she provides notice and the new address of her former partner.

He has not yet removed ALL of his possessions – a vehicle in his name remains on the drive and some items of furniture etc. Nor has he returned the key. Rent has been paid covering up until 2nd Oct.

Does a tenancy still exist?

Does she need to give notice as well?

What should I advise her to do? Is there any point in her giving notice if no tenancy exists?

I also rent a couple of houses to couples so am interested from a professional point of view in this situation as well as in order to help a friend.

Answer

1 Comment

  1. guildy

    You are absolutely correct that a notice from one ends the entire tenancy for all on a joint and several tenancy.

    The tenancy will therefore be at an end once the notice expires and so rent should not be demanded from the remaining occupier.

    Instead of rent, you can ask for “mesne profits” (pronounced “mean profits”) which means damages for the use and occupation of the property. A letter explaining any future money received will be treated as mesne profits should be given to the tenant. A suitable template is available here.

    A court order will be needed to obtain possession but that can be obtained on the basis of the notice to quit you’ve been given (I mean your friend of course).

    Alternatively, a new tenancy could be granted to the remaining occupiers. Doing nothing though is not an option though.

    Please see this article for full details.

    It is worthy of note that sometime in the future (suggested autumn 2018) the position will change in Wales and there will be a special procedure for joint tenants wishing to leave a periodic tenancy. However, as we speak, above is correct.

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