Clarification of Answer by
13 Apr 2006 10:40 PDT
Thanks for your clarification, and sorry for my late reply.
I've had another look around, here's what I've come across.
One site presents promising information:
"If your sister has signed a joint tenancy with this person, she's
jointly liable for his part of the rent. As far as the other bills are
concerned, she is liable for the whole payment for those that are in
her name. She could try to negotiate to pay just her half, but the
utility companies are under no obligation to accept this. But she may
be able to arrange to pay the bills herself through a payment plan to
keep herself out of hot water, and then take action through the small
claims court to try to get it back from the friend."
The other isn't as promising:
"You may want to share the responsibilities of your tenancy with
someone who lives with you. However, you should think carefully before
having a joint tenancy because each joint tenant is jointly
responsible for all of a tenant?s obligations under the Tenancy
Agreement. For example, joint tenants are jointly responsible for the
rent, and so if one tenant leaves, the remaining tenant will be
responsible for any outstanding rent."
Similarly, this one is pretty negative in term of your prospects:
"Renting a property together is easier in legal terms than buying one.
A tenancy agreement that names you both treats you equally. But this
does not mean in law that each of you has to pay only half the rent -
if one of you does not pay their share, the other person is legally
responsible for all the rent. This is called being 'jointly and
severally liable'. It applies not just to the rent, but to most types
of debt that you take on as a couple in your joint names."
There is some contradictory information out there, which seems to
depend on the actual tenancy. Try and have a look at your signed
tenancy and see if it says anything in there, such as: both tenants
are responsible for the rent, if one tenant leaves, the other must
If there is nothing there, or it's unclear, if I were you, I would
proceed as follows:
Call into a Citizens advice bureau and ask for some help writing a
polite but firm letter. In it, state clearly the facts. e.g. Person x
signed the tenancy agreement, left without notice on date y, did not
terminate tenancy, did not make payments. Then state the agreement you
signed and its conditions, or your common understanding.
Then say that you have taken legal advice from a solicitor, and that
you will file a case with the Small claims court <insert address of
your local court> if you don't hear anything from them within 2 weeks
and received payment in full within 4 weeks.
Type up the letter, print it out, including proper headings. Also
indicate that the letter has been copied to a solicitor and use the
name of the person or contact you have at the Citizens advice bureau.
Then send it by recorded or special delivery separately to your
ex-partner and once his parents.
I would be surprised that after that you don't hear anything. One of
the keys of negotiation is providing mutual benefit. If your
ex-partner believes that he will go through a lot more trouble (and
loose more money) if you have to fulfil your threats, then you have a
good chance of succeeding. Therefore your letter needs to be credible
in terms of its wording, presentation, your intentions and the outcome
(if you have to go to court). i.e. you must be convincing in the fact
that you have good advice and that he will loose should he not respond
to your request. However, you shouldn't be threatening or become
personal, because any personal attacks, will result in the other party
becoming protective and rejecting any reasonable agreement.
If you don't succeed, then I would proceed with getting legal advice
and asking a legal professional to look at your case, look at your
tenancy agreement, look at the circumstances and then advise you on a
personal level, whether or not your claim will succeed. I've included
contact details in the links below.
Please let me know if I can help you any further or anything is unclear.
Small Claims Court
Citizens advice bureau
Local advice finder
CLS Legal Adviser Directory