Ending a joint tenancy (England)

Published Monday, October 12, 2015

This House of Commons Library briefing paper outlines the legal position when a tenant of social housing wants to change a tenancy from joint names to their sole name.

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Why tenancy transfers (joint to sole names) are requested?

The situation frequently arises in social housing, particularly in cases involving relationship breakdown, where one party to a joint tenancy wishes to have the tenancy put in their sole name. Alternatively, the tenant who has left might find it difficult to secure rehousing if they are already a joint tenant of another property – in these circumstances they often ask for their names to be removed from joint tenancy agreements.

Landlords' powers

As a general rule, landlords, whether they are housing associations or councils, cannot unilaterally end a joint tenancy or remove names from a tenancy agreement at the request of a joint tenant. If one party to a joint tenancy serves a notice to quit this has the effect of terminating the whole of the tenancy leaving the tenant in occupation at risk of eviction by the landlord. This position has been established in several court cases, most recently Sims v Dacorum Borough Council [2014] UKSC 63.

Courts' powers

The county courts have powers to order the transfer of tenancies from joiint to sole names in certain circumstances.  Constituents seeking a court order are best referred for professional legal advice.


Commons Briefing papers SN05149

Author: Wendy Wilson

Topics: Housing, Social rented housing

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