Agony Agent is here to help!
10th March 2020
Q. My tenants have split up, what should I do?
A. Break-ups can be a mess and as much as your tenants might try and get you involved in the nitty-gritty of the split, don’t. It is not your place to do so. Stay professional. Find out what the tenants want to do. Does one of them want to stay on? If so, are you sure they will be able to afford the rent, plus bills?
If they can afford the rent and bills, you can let them stay on, but you may want to change the tenancy agreement. If you do choose to change the tenancy agreement then you will have to refund any deposit taken and ask for a new deposit, which you’ll then have to re-protect. Please don’t miss out this step. It is very important to ensure any deposits taken from tenants are protected in one of the Government approved tenancy deposit schemes.
If you think the tenant who wants to stay can’t afford the rent on their own, and you have no legal right to chase the former tenant for rent, then you may be better off issuing a Section 21.
If they both want to leave, then you can accept notice from them, and end the tenancy in the normal manner. If there is still a fixed term to wait out, then they are contractually obliged to pay rent until the end of the fixed term agreement. You may wish to negotiate with the tenants on this point though, because really your new focus now should be on getting new tenants in.
If there is a history of rent arrears or persistently late rent, then you may be able to use a Section 8 to get them out. However, if you know the tenant can’t really afford to live in the property without the second income, but there have been no arrears in the past, you may have to sit and wait until the rent is sufficiently late to allow you to issue a Section 8, or until their fixed term ends. If you can’t issue a Section 8, then issue a Section 21 as soon as you can, and as soon as you believe there may be a problem. Whatever you do, always keep the lines of communication open between you and your tenants.
Do get in touch if you need any assistance.