What does joint tenancy with several liability mean?

roomates around a box in their new apartment tenancy. tenants

What does joint tenancy with several liability mean?

Sharing a living space with others can be an exciting adventure. However, with shared living comes shared responsibilities, and understanding the legal aspects of your arrangement is essential for a harmonious cohabitation. One critical aspect to grasp is the concept of ‘joint tenancy with several liability’ as this is the most common form of assured shorthold tenancy in the UK. Whether you’re a first-time renter or someone looking for deeper insights into commonly used rental jargon, this blog aims to provide you with the knowledge you need to make informed decisions and foster a positive shared living experience. First of all, lets break it up to look at types of tenancies, what a joint tenancy is and then what several liability means within a tenancy agreement.

What is a tenancy agreement and what is assured shorthold tenancy?

A tenancy agreement is a legally binding contract between a landlord and a tenant that sets out the terms and conditions of a rental property. The landlord must provide the tenant with a copy of the tenancy agreement at least 28 days before the start of the tenancy. It is important to read and understand the tenancy agreement carefully before signing it, as it will outline your rights and responsibilities as a tenant. The agreement includes details of the tenant and landlord, such as their names, contact details, rights and responsibilities. It also includes details of the tenancy, such as start and end dates, payments and property regulations.

The most common form of tenancy agreement in the UK is an assured shorthold tenancy (AST) which is typically used for renting out a property to private tenants. An AST gives the landlord more flexibility than other types of tenancies, such as an assured tenancy or a regulated tenancy. It is a fixed-term tenancy, which means that it lasts for a set period of time, typically 6 months to 12 months. The landlord can also evict the tenant at the end of the fixed term without giving a reason but likewise the tenant has the right to a rent review at least once every 12 months.

handing over keys for the new home

What is joint tenancy?

A joint tenancy agreement is a type of rental contract in which two or more people rent a property together. All the tenants have equal rights to the property, and they are all equally responsible for the rent and any other obligations under the tenancy agreement.

In a joint tenancy, there is no concept of individual ownership. This means that if one tenant dies, their share of the property automatically passes to the surviving tenants. This is called the right of survivorship.

Tenants must agree on all major decisions regarding the property. This includes things like signing a new tenancy agreement, changing the rent, or making repairs to the property. If one tenant wants to leave the tenancy, they must usually give the landlord notice and find a replacement tenant. The landlord cannot evict the remaining tenants just because one tenant has left.

If you are considering signing a joint tenancy rental agreement, it is important to discuss the implications with the other tenants and make sure that you are all comfortable with the arrangement. You should also make sure that you understand all of the terms of the tenancy agreement before you sign it.

people in a house. tenants in a room. joint tenancy.

What is meant by ‘several liability’?

Several liability means that each person is individually responsible for their own actions. In the context of a tenancy agreement, this means that each tenant is individually responsible for paying their share of the rent and for meeting their other obligations under the tenancy agreement.

If one tenant breaches the tenancy agreement, the landlord can only sue that tenant for the damages that they caused. The landlord cannot sue the other tenants for the damages that were caused by the breaching tenant.

lady holding papers

What is meant by ‘joint and several liability’?

Unlike the above definition of ‘several liability’, a ‘joint tenancy with several liability’ means all the tenants are jointly and severally liable for the rent and any other obligations under the tenancy agreement. So where appropriate, the landlord can sue any one of the tenants for the full amount of rent or damages, even if the other tenants have paid their share. If that one tenant cannot pay the amount forward, the remaining tenants are required to cover the costs.

For example, if you and two other friends rent a house together on a joint tenancy with several liability, and one of your friends fails to pay their share of the rent, the landlord can sue you for the full amount of rent. You could then try to recover the money from your friend, but if they don’t have the money, you would be responsible for paying the landlord the full amount.

It is important to be aware of the risks involved, as you could be held liable for the full amount of rent or damages even if you are not responsible for the breach of the tenancy agreement. A risk to be aware of when it comes to this type of tenancy is that if one lessee decides to move out of the rental property, and the others cannot cover the costs or replace the tenancy, the landlord may require all of the tenants to move out.

tenants that are fighting

Why do people choose joint tenancy with several liability?

There are a few reasons why people might choose a joint tenancy with several liability when renting a property.

The main reason being that it can be a good option for people who are renting a property with friends or family members. This is because it means that everyone is equally responsible for the rent and any other obligations under the tenancy agreement. This can be helpful if the tenants are all on a tight budget or if they have different incomes.

Understanding joint tenancy with several liability is important if you’re sharing a property. By looking into what joint tenancy and several liability mean, we can figure out how this co-ownership setup works. The key thing here is the tenancy agreement – a contract that spells out everyone’s roles, duties, and important details about the tenancy. Joint tenancy means you and your housemates have equal rights and share responsibilities. If one person passes away, their share goes to the others. On the flip side, several liability means you’re responsible for your own actions. Going for a joint tenancy with several liability can be a smart move for sharing a place with friends or family, especially if you’re in for a short stay or have different budgets. This way, everyone chips in fairly, making living together smoother and fairer.

people signing a tenancy agreement. joint tenancy.

For more information and/or advice about the different types of tenancies one can enter, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us at Complete Prime Residential, below.


In terms of renting, the main difference between joint tenancy and tenancy in common is that joint tenants are jointly and severally liable for the rent, while tenants in common are only liable for their own share of the rent. This means that if one joint tenant does not pay their share of the rent, the other joint tenants are still responsible for paying the full amount. However, if one tenant in common does not pay their share of the rent, the other tenants in common are not responsible for paying it. 

The legal concept of the right of survivorship states that when one joint tenant owner passes away, their shares automatically transfer to the surviving joint owners. This takes precedence over the provisions in any will and the rules of intestacy.

With regards to owning a property, the four owners of a joint tenancy applies to situations where people share property ownership equally or in parts. Usually, there can be up to four people listed as official owners. But if there are more than four, we use something called a trust to handle ownership. The extra owners (and there can be as many as needed) are listed as people who will benefit when the property is eventually sold.

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