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What to do if your Tenants split up?

Friday, 3rd December 2010

Categories: Lettings Property Management

Author: Peter Barry

As Shakespeare once said “the path of true love never does run smooth” and unfortunately in the case of separating tenants this can become the landlord’s problem.

Of course the first the Landlord may know that “things just didn’t work out” is on the rent due date when the rent doesn’t arrive.

So, if you are a Landlord managing the property yourself, you contact the tenant to find out what the problem is. You are notified that they have split up and she/he has moved out and cancelled the standing order for the rent.

Don’t panic. Listen to the tenant and ask what his plans are, short term and long term, in relation to the property (you don’t want to hear the reasons behind his heartbreak…or maybe you do, it might be better than Eastenders!).

Next, check the tenancy agreement:

  • Were they both named tenants and did they both sign the Tenancy Agreement?  If they are both listed as tenants then they are jointly and severally liable to fulfil the contract. They should (in theory) sort it out between themselves.
  • However it could be she is just a named occupant? In which case it is his responsibility to pay the rent… on time, but you will need to establish, can he honestly afford to live there alone?
  • How long is left to run on the tenancy?
  • Do the tenants or landlord have a break clause that can be actioned? Hopefully the split will be amicable.  They will dissolve their joint financial commitments fairly and move on with their lives. The standing order will be set back up from his account and the stream of income continues until the end of the tenancy. Happy days.

Worst case scenario, he could go through a midlife crisis and start throwing wild parties and upsetting the neighbours. Or screaming fights in the street after dark and fist marks in the internal doors. All hassle, phonecalls, emails and letters for the landlord.

Ideally (for the landlord of course) he will move on quickly and find a replacement to be his new room mate.  This makes it more likely he will renew the tenancy past the fixed term.

Of course if the property is professionally managed, the relationship with the tenant is managed.  A third party can be invaluable in sensitive situations.