Problem with a council joint tenency agreeement...

Discussion in 'Finance, Property, Law' started by Recce19, Oct 7, 2010.

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  1. Need some legal advice! Up until January last year, I was in a joint tenancy (council house) with my wife. After we had a very acrimonious split, I went to the council and signed a form deleting myself from the joint tenancy and handing her single, or sole tenancy rights. I was informed at the time, that I would still be a tenant for a further four weeks, as that was the required notice period. I was also informed that they would have no further duty towards housing me.

    Fast forward to today (071010) and I receive a phone call to my UK mobile - it is the council! Before the woman got started, I pointed out that I have no dealings with that property and no contact with my estranged wife. This is where the bomb shell was dropped on me, according to the council, I am still a joint tenant of that property and and am liable for rent arrears and council tax arrears as well!!!

    According to this woman, my ex never signed a form they sent her after I had left and without her signature of agreement, they cannot remove me from the tenancy agreement! The only other way, is by a court order.

    Now my question is this: Is there any other way to remove my name? I have told this council woman, that I will not pay a penny towards any debts, accrued after the end of the four week notice period and that also, I reside in another country (not disclosed to her).

    Any help, will be gratefully received!
  2. That is a bit of a tricky I must say. Firstly - If the council are chasing you for all of the rent arrears, then it means that there is a problem with getting the money off your Ex. The council doesn't care who it comes from (To state the obvious) but like the tax man, they go for one, "No pay", they go for the other. so first major point is, you could only be liable for half of the arrears at most. Your partner would be liable for the other half.
    The other part is that you might be able to see a solicitor about having your name taken off and the council did not do that and further more they did not inform you to say your name had not been taken off. Councils are a pain in the ar$e for this. I currently work for one and have some dealings with the housing officers (Work in homeless myself), so if I can found out any more than I will give you a shout.
    However I know that the council I work for has charged people £2,000 in rent because they were sent to prison and the council was not informed by anyone. If in the worst situation, you do have to pay half of the arrears, I think that the minimum amount you must pay each week is currently £3.21!

    Edited to add -
    If they whinge about taking your name off, tell them you'll take them to court, really if your ex has mass arrears (I would have thought that the rent period, Jan last year to now, would be about £7,000 in total?) must have a good substancial amount paid off. The council really has an obligation to kick her arse out of the door once the arrears get too high. They should start these precedings at about £500. But I've know them to go as high as £2,000. Also if they kicked your ex out for arrears, she would be homeless and in need of temp accomodation. Most councils have a arrears limit of about £250, owe more than that you stay in temp until you pay it off or have spent at least 6 months paying £3.21 per week with no gaps. She might not be aware about trying to pass the debt on to you, which means she has to pay almost all of it before the council will re-house her.

    Hope that helps a bit.
  3. Thanks for that e_d_m. I should clarify that when this woman called me, she wanted to speak to either me or the ex, so I'm not too sure if they are actually chasing me for any arrears. She also said that they would go round and try to get her to sign this form and then, in her words, not chase me for any money as they do not know which country I live in now. Not too sure how far I can trust that statement!

    I am also not sure what would happen, if she refuses to sign this form! So any information you can get would be hugely appreciated.

    Thanks! :)
  4. Do you have evidence you told the council (do they admit receiving the form in any written form)?

    Maybe try suggesting you would bring them to the authorities for maladministration, for not telling you about the counter signatory measures and not advising you (if they got the form) after a certain time that your ex did not sign the forms, if they had a valid forwarding address.

    Sorry cannot help further, just some thoughts.
  5. Yes, they admit to having the form signed by myself. I will see how they get on with obtaining the signature from my ex and if they don't, then I think I will go down that route.

    Cheers for your help, finnisharrse.
  6. You've sort of lost me on the 'joint tenancy' bit as the term 'joint tenancy' usually refers to the co-ownership of a property. I've never heard of it being used in relation to a rental agreement. What you do need to do Recce, is contact a solicitor. I appreciate that you are outside the UK, but you need to do so for your own peace of mind. From what I can see here, you originally entered into a rental contract with the council and following the breakdown of your relationship, you and the council agreed to relinquish your obligation to that contract, following the required period of notice, which has since passed. I would therefore ask them to write to you explaining in detail where your contractual obligations are. As far as I can see, you don't have any. There may be some hidden small print which you haven't seen though, mate. If you haven't got copies yourself and I would imagine that may be the case, contact the Council and ask them for certified true copies of all paperwork between you and them. Your solicitor will ask for this.
  7. Thanks for the good advice Biscuits, I will get on the case and hopefully get this sorted out.
  8. Speaking to a colleague and she feels that your request to have your signature taken off the licence agreement shoud be more than sufficient to pass it on to your partner. This is mainly due to the fact that if it is a joint tennancy, then her would have already been on the contract. If it was solely in your name, the she would have to sign for the property. When you left she had the right to terminate the contract, but she didn't and therefore took sole responsability for the agreement. Good about them having the copy of you taking your name of the licence thou. I think if it went ot court, that would be the main document that they would look at. The judge might than accuse the council of only going after you because of the arrears, as they didn't seem to have a problem when you left.
  9. Thanks again e_d_m, looks like a few phone calls on Monday!
  10. As yet, you don't appear to have received any qualified advice - and I'm not about to start! What you have got are some optimistic responses. Well, I don't do optimism. If something can go wrong, it will go wrong. So I'll be your Jonah.

    I reckon you're stuffed and will end up being hounded for the full amount.

    The tenancy agreement is in two names, so until both parties sign to end the agreement, the agreement will remain standing. Think of it like a 1033. If an item of kit were ever to be signed out to two soldiers (I know it doesn't happen, but if it did...), would you, as an SQMS accept a piece of paper from one of them saying that the other bloke would return it so please take my name off the 1033? Not on your Nelly! You'd tell him to bring the kit back so the 1033 could be cancelled and if the other bloke wanted it, he'd have to sign another 1033. For all the council knows, you could have minced your ex in the blender, decorated the lounge with her, flogged all the doors and windows on eBay and joined the Army.

    I suspect that the 4 week thing was more of a "When your ex also puts her signature on the form, within 4 weeks we'll make a decision whether she can remain in the house or has to be moved to something different." And if your ex doesn't sign the form, then the agreement runs as is.

    If your ex hasn't got the money to cover the arrears, they'll be chasing someone who has - the other signatory to the agreement.

    Start saving.
  11. Cheers Puttees! However, in my defence, they never mentioned any of this when I signed the form to take my name off the rental contract. The four weeks notice, was explained to me as a cooling off period, just in case I changed my mind. At no point was it mentioned that they needed the ex's signature as well, just that she would become sole tenant!

    Wouldn't surprise me though, that you are right!
  12. i have three children the youngest bein my partner has gone to work away so that he can earn money to pay rent an bills. i recently discovered he hadnt been payin the rent an not even the counsil tax and water rates in stead he has beein spending it on drink and gambling. hes been wotkin away now for 5 weeks an has only sent me 10 pound to help i dont no what hes been doin with his wages.ive managed to pay the 1000 rent areas by askin my family for help which hated cus i never lend money.we have a join tenency an i need to no if i leave my partner as i carnt cope with debt he is getting us into an the lies will he be liable to pay half the counsil tax as with 3 children he has propper left me in the lurch and im at my witts end on what to do.