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My tenants are getting divorced - one's leaving, one's staying. What do I do?

Question

My tenants, a married couple, renewed their tenancy agreement a couple of months ago. They’ve just announced that they are splitting up and the husband has served his notice! What do I do?

Answer

Your main priority must be to assess whether or not the wife, who would be your remaining tenant, can afford the rent alone.

If she can, you will need to provide her with a new single tenancy agreement, and carry out a Right to Rent check. Treat her as if she is an entirely new tenant, and disregard any of the joint paperwork that you may have had with her and her husband.

Whilst it is unfortunate to have to consider this at such a difficult time, if you (or she), believe that affordability could be a problem for her on her own, you may need to consider serving notice on her. Whilst she may have been a good tenant, and you want to be supportive during this difficult time, adding money worries to her concerns is not going to help, and is unlikely to be financially viable for you either.

Another task you will have to make sure you carry out within 30 days of end of the husband’s notice period is to make sure that you return the deposit that you took when they took out the initial joint agreement. If the wife is then carrying on with a single tenancy agreement you will have to take and protect a deposit from her as an individual, however this must be separate from the original deposit.

Don’t forget that this will be a very emotional time for your tenants, try to proceed with caution and be as understanding as you can – but do remember that you have legislation to adhere to and bills to pay yourself!

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