I’ll try and keep this brief and appreciate any advice.
A relative has put down a deposit for a flat via Openrent with two other parties. I have been asked to be a guarantor for my relative. Reading the ‘What is a guarantor’ information at https://help.openrent.co.uk/hc/en-gb/articles/115000710431, linked in the ‘You have been requested to be a guarantor’ email that I received, it looks like the flat is being offered under a joint tenancy agreement.
After reading that under a joint tenancy I could potentially be liable for paying the rent of the two other parties in the flat, I raised this issue with the landlord and was told (verbatim):
All tenants and all guarantors are jointly and severally liable at law on a rental contract. That is UK law. It is the same throughout the UK and will be the case wherever you go whatever contract is used.
There is no getting around it
And so after two minutes on the Citizens advice website I requested that the flat be offered with individual sole tenancies for each of the three occupants, thereby protecting them and their guarantors (I believe at least two out of the three tenants have guarantors). He refused and said:
…am unable to comply with your suggestion because Openrent have their own platform and cannot do three separate contracts and my mortgage company will not allow it.
…as said the Openrent contract, as indeed any joint contract in the UK, makes all parties jointly and severally liable. I nor anyone else can change that.
My limited experience with Openrent suggests that this is simply incorrect. In fact one of the example ASTs on the site is specifically for shared accommodation: https://d10hbub4nkludc.cloudfront.net/content/contractsamples/v4/OpenRent%20Sample%20AST%20-%20Room%20in%20House%20or%20Flat%20Share%20-%20With%20Guarantor.pdf
My gut feeling here is that the landlord wants all of the upsides of being a landlord but none of the potential downsides. He doesn’t want the additional administration of dealing with three individual tenancy agreements. I also believe that his flat is not registered as an HMO as I have looked at the local authority’s rules on this and then on the register and it is not listed.
My relative has already paid a holding deposit and I worry that she will struggle to get it back should this deal fall through.
My main concern about the whole situation is of course being potentially liable for the rent of the other two occupants.
Any advice greatly appreciated.