The Court of Appeal has just delivered a judgment in the case of Sims v Dacorum Borough Council which considered the question of whether a joint tenant (i.e. one of two tenants named in a tenancy agreement) could themselves serve notice terminating a tenancy agreement.
It had always been accepted under UK law that one joint tenant can serve notice and that this binds the co-tenant to the extent that the co-tenant can find the tenancy terminated even if they have not served notice themselves.
The case of Sims v Dacorum Borough Council considered whether this principle breached article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The article is known as the “right to respect for one’s home” and it was argued that if one tenant is able to terminate a tenancy agreement by serving notice that does not involve the other tenant, then that would breach the co-tenant’s right to respect for his home.
The Court of Appeal considered the arguments, however ultimately dismissed them and stated that in this instance there was “no incompatibility between the rules of English property and contract law relating to the termination of a joint tenancy by one joint tenant and the European Convention for Human Rights”.
Whilst this does not create any changes to existing UK law, it does clarify this particular point.
The lesson from this is perhaps that if you are a tenant entering into a tenancy agreement with another joint tenant, then you need to be well aware, not just of your obligations with regard to rent, upkeep of the property etc, but also the fact that your co-tenant could end the tenancy agreement without even telling you! When the notice runs out the other tenant would lose their right to live in the property and could be face being evicted
If you have any questions about this article or any other landlord and tenant matters then do feel free to contact Veitch Penny’s property team on 01392-278381.