Is a tenant liable for a flatmate's unpaid rent share?


My two tenants pay 50% of the rent each. One’s just lost his job, and has let me know that things are really tight. Do I have to just accept half the rent, or is it his flatmate’s responsibility to pay 100%?


This entirely depends on the type of tenancy agreement that you have in place with your tenants.

If your tenants each have their own tenancy agreement, each tenant is responsible for their own rent, and their own rent alone. They have no responsibility towards each other’s financial responsibilities, and you cannot approach the other tenant regarding any unpaid rent that isn’t linked to them.

However, if the tenancy agreement is a joint tenancy, your tenants signed the agreement on the basis that they accepted joint and several responsible for the entire rental amount.

In short, this means that if one person on the agreement stops paying the rent, every tenant is responsible for making up the shortfall. Whether the tenants are working as a team or individually, they agreed that they were prepared to pay the full rental amount as stated on the tenancy agreement – and as such you are entitled to claim the full amount from any one of the named tenants.

If it is not possible for the remaining tenants to make up the rental amount, joint and several liability also applied to guarantors. Whilst the tenant who has lost their job may not have a guarantor, if another member of the household does on a joint tenancy, you are able to claim the whole of any outstanding rent from this guarantor. Obviously, this isn’t an ideal solution, so wherever possible it is better to work with your tenants and try and come up with a solution if possible.

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