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Leaving a shared tenancy before the tenancy period is over

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My girlfriend recently moved in with two friends in a private let. They signed a 6 month tenancy agreement last month, and paid one month rent upfront with a £500 damage deposit. Unfortunately both my girlfriend and the people she lives with have numerous depressive mental conditions. One of them constantly threatens to move out over small issues and has caused some serious problems (including trips to the hospital), so my girlfriend no longer feels stable or comfortable living there.

 

All three tenants are on full time disability benefit, since they are unable to work. However, since they have only been there a month and the DWP are remarkably inefficient, the housing benefit has yet to have officially started. This is why the first month's rent was paid in cash upfront. We have a signed note that it will be returned when the housing benefit is backpaid. I don't know whether this alters things in terms of the contract itself, but since all rent is meant to be paid by the housing benefit (which it isn't yet) and the first month's rent has already been paid (and the second month's is due tomorrow) this presents a problem if she moves out - she's out several hundred pounds. The other problem is the damage deposit. Does she have any legal right to claim back her part of the damage deposit if the landlord agrees to let her leave early?

 

The tenancy agreement does not explicitly state any break clause, but since the other two tenants would (assumedly) remain I am unsure of the state of affairs in this case. The housing benefit and disability living allowance for the other two tenants may indeed cover the total rent if they re-applied.

 

We are planning on talking to the landlord tomorrow when the rent is to be collected tomorrow. Hopefully there won't be too much hassle and we can discuss the options to see if an agreement can be met. However, if they are overly awkward about it, we do have some ammunition in the form of previous damage to the property that we weren't informed about. One window catch is damaged so it requires a large amount of force to open and close. A protuding power socket upstairs has been smashed to bits and then "repaired" with sellotape (no, I'm deadly serious) which is, of course, rediculously dangerous. One of the windows in the kitchen was cracked, which we only noticed after opening and shutting it a few times caused the crack to spread right across the window. There are also a few other minor issues such as water sporadically leaking from the kitchen ceiling and multiple check lights lit on the boiler.

 

To be honest, the money is the least of my worries as money can be replaced, recovered or just forgotten about - someone's welfare and mental state cannot. The only real issue is that she has borrowed £900 off her parents to help pay for moving out with the intention of paying it back when the housing benefit came through and she could stop spending her DLA on rent. Her father is somewhat obsessive when it comes to money and it would cause her significant stress if she was stuck with no way to pay him back.

 

Apologies for the long post, but I hope the detail will help you understand what's going on here. If needs be, I can scan in the tencancy agreement, remove any sensitive information, then post it for you to read.

 

Thanks,

Graham

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It seems likely that your friend would remain jointly liable for the rent and bills until the end of the fixed term unless the landlord and other tenants agree to a deal. That means she won't have a right to the damage deposit until the tenancy is over.

 

If you have an inventory, it needs to be annotated with any damage and existing problems. If not, it is worth writing down a list of all issues with the property and sending a copy to the landlord.

 

Ask for a gas safety certificate for the boiler, and insist that the elecs are sorted.

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