Tenants split up, what to do?

The contract is fixed until end of March next year, it is a joint agreement with both of their names…

The woman just moved out suddenly without any warning given to her partner or us. The other tenant is still living in the property and told us today that he’ll pay half of the rent from next week and we need to chase the other half from the woman.

When we contacted her, she said she’ll not return and asked for a “1-month notice” to terminate her part of the contract. Of course it does not work like this in a fixed term join tendency agreement…

The man has not yet told us his plan, but we’d expect him to look for a smaller and more affordable place soon. But they’ve paid rent in full for Sept, and at least one of them offered to pay half of the rent for Oct. We cannot really do anything…

On insurance side: we just renewed our landlord insurance with Simply Business beginning of Sept before this happened, although Tenant Default is included, I’m not sure whether and how to claim if they stop paying rent (most possibly from Nov). And if we claim, what will be needed.

Anyone have any advice?

a joint agreement means both are liable or one is liable for full amount

Its what is known as a joint and several liability in legal parlance. Both tenants are liable for the full amount of rent unless there is a specified split given in the tenancy (very unusual). It is not your responsibility to chase either for rent. You can pursue either/both for non-payment through the courts. Better solution is to persuade both to relinquish the tenancy and find a new tenant(s) quickly if possible. Normally the least hassle, quickest and cheapest option.

Where possible I offer sole tenancy to avoid the possibility of such issues and then there is only one person who is liable.

Thank you for your reply Nilesh.

  1. If the tenants agree to terminate the contract earlier but they have unpaid rent that cannot be covered by the deposit - can I ask them to agree on a repayment plan after the tenancy or ask the court for them to repay the outstanding balance?
  2. If they do not agree to terminate it earlier, how long do I need to wait to send them Section 21 in the current situation and can I ask for any repayment or the rent arrears from the insurance (I do have Tenant Default insurance.

Thank you again.


  1. Yes they will still owe any unpaid rent so you can agree repayment and use court if necessary to enforce it.
  2. You could send them a s21 now as the 6 months notice would take it beyond fixed term date. Dont know about insurance, best to check your policy terms or speak to the insurers.
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Thanks Richard! I will action these as you suggested super helpful! I am quite worried that 1. If the tenancy leaps into Christmas time and we’ll have the property vacant for 2-3 months if they move out in late Nov/early Dec
2. If they just decide to stay in the property without paying the rent, I believe I cannot evict them for the first 3 months due to Covid, and even if I can, it may take very long, so I’ll check with the insurance company.

I believe, based on many posts I have read, attempting to recover any unpaid rent or other monies, whether an agreement exists or not, once the tenancy has ended and the tenants have left the property if fraught with difficulties, expense and disappointment. With this in mind, I never agree to accept the deposit money in lieu of rent. The deposit is not taken for this purpose and should not be reassigned in this way without clear written and signed/dated agreement from the tenants. Any deposit protection scheme you use will require the tenant’s permission to release any part of the deposit to you once you make the request. The tenant could refuse and then you are in dispute. The written agreement will be your only proof.

I have no insight into landlord’s insurance. Never used it myself. Best to explain the situation to the insurance provider and seek their input/advice on how to proceed to ensure you have a valid claim.

Good luck

Thanks Nilesh for your comment, I will keep this in mind when contacting the tenants. They’ve been at the property for 1.5 years and never missed rent. I hope to resolve this among us but good to know the options I have.

All the best!