New deal for tenants - rented sector reform proposals: consultation

Background for tenants and landlords who wish to respond to our landlord and tenant engagement questionnaire on rented sector reform, which is asking for views on some of the details of the proposals.

Ending a joint tenancy

The issue

If there is more than one person named on a tenancy agreement as the Tenant, the tenancy will be a joint tenancy. This means that each person is responsible on their own individually - as well as equally along with all of the others - for all of the payments and other things the tenant is required to do under the tenancy.

All types of households can be joint tenants from students, friends, siblings, partners and married couples.

The Private Housing (Tenancies)(Scotland)Act 2016 changed the way that a joint tenancy could be ended so that all joint tenants must agree to give notice. This approach aimed to ensure that no joint tenant could be inadvertently made homeless.

Unfortunately, this means that a person can be 'trapped' in a tenancy by other joint tenants, regardless of the circumstances, if agreement cannot be reached. Even if a joint tenant moves out of the let property, they are still responsible, along with other joint tenants, for rent and other obligations if the tenancy has not ended for all tenants.

This can be difficult for any joint tenant needing to leave a tenancy but can be particularly problematic for those experiencing domestic abuse.

Overview of proposed change

24. We are exploring the introduction of a new approach to deal with circumstances where it is not possible for joint tenants to agree to end a joint tenancy. This process would enable one, or more, joint tenants to end the tenancy without the agreement of all but only after providing reasonable notice to other joint tenants.

25. Where there is no agreement between the joint tenants to allow one of them to leave the tenancy, the tenant who wishes to go would be required to give a fixed amount of notice to all other joint tenants of their intention to end the tenancy for all.

26. The period of time between the departing tenant giving this notice to the other tenants and the final notice to leave being given to the landlord would be set out in law. This period of time would give the other joint tenants time to consider their own circumstances and to come to an agreement with the exiting tenant – through finding someone to replace the tenant leaving, assessing whether they are able to continue to afford to remain in the property either on the same tenancy agreement or under a new tenancy (subject to the landlords agreement) or find alternative accommodation. Alternatively, if all tenants agree they could also provide the landlord with notice to end the tenancy earlier (but no earlier than the statutory 28 day notice period unless agreement is reached with the landlord).

27. We are considering a notice period of 2 months' (56 days) which the departing tenant(s) must give to the other joint tenants. At the end of the 2 month period, if no agreement has been reached, the tenant who wants to leave, could then serve the required final notice to leave (28 days) to the landlord. This would then end the tenancy for all tenants. The remaining tenants would be encouraged to speak with the landlord about their options as soon as possible after receiving the initial 2 month notice.

28. The questionnaire alongside this paper, seeks views on the proposed length of notice a joint tenant wishing to leave should give other joint tenants and whether it should be shorter or longer than the 2 months proposed.



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