Fellow students left counting the cost of liability for tenant’s rent
Students renting a property need to check the small print. Sharon Dale reports.
SHARING a house with friends is a rite of passage for many students, but Yorkshire Post reader David Hodgson has a cautionary tale.
His son Michael and four of his house mates are now faced with a bill of £2,293 and possible court action after another student failed to pay his part of the rent for a property in Leeds.
The tenant who ran up the debt has disappeared, leaving the others to pay and the landlord is within his right to chase them for the arrears.
What seems to be unjust and unfair on those who always paid their way is, in fact, completely legal thanks to the Group Tenancy Agreement.
These agreements for sharers are common in student properties. If one person defaults then everyone is responsible for the arrears, even though the individual rents are collected separately by the landlords or letting agent.
David, of Holmfirth, believes the situation is grossly unfair because in his son’s case it is easier for the letting agent to chase other sharers for the debt rather than make an effort to find the person responsible.
The situation is complicated by the fact that one of the original sharers left and found his own replacement and the change to the original agreement was instigated with the knowledge of only one other house mate.
“On challenging this change the letting agent argued that all parties had officially signed the required document. In fact, only one of the tenants had signed,” says David, who adds: “You will appreciate why I am extremely unhappy at the prospect of my son being taken to court for doing absolutely nothing wrong and due to circumstances completely beyond his control.
“From my perspective, the whole principle of the Group Tenancy Agreement is legally weighted firmly with the letting agent, as it appears to absolve the landlord of any need to actively pursue any individual tenant for rent arrears.
“In this particular scenario, the letting agent has made little if any real effort to pursue the
STUDENT LIFE: But Group Tenancy Agreements mean you could all be liable for the rent if one tenant leaves.