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Please help: accidentally entered joint tenancy agreement

Hi all,

A few months ago, I began renting a new place. I am disabled and must have a live-in carer, and I am in receipt of disability payments. The tenancy agreement I entered was meant to be sole on my name, but the lettings agent put it down as joint with the name of my carer. As I am disabled and require a live-in carer, I am allowed to have another bedroom for my carer and am entitled for the extra housing costs from UC. However, as the lettings agent put the agreement down as a joint, I have been informed I will only be given half of the housing costs. My carer cannot pay the other half as they do not earn enough and I am entitled to the housing costs amount for two bedrooms (one for me, one for my live-in carer).

As such, I have not been able to pay the rent. I have spoken to the LL who has said they will only change the agreement into a sole once the arrears have been paid. However, I cannot afford to pay the arrears and they say they won't put the original date of the agreement on the sole, which means any loans I take in order to cover the arrears I won't be able to receive back from housing costs as different dates will be in play.

This has caused me significant distress and has worsened my health conditions. Could someone please advise me of any next steps I can take? I would sincerely appreciate any help you can provide me with.
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Replies

  • MalMonroeMalMonroe Forumite
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    Hi, I'm so sorry to hear of all the trouble you're having.

    Have you tried to speak to the lettings agent? It's because of their error that you now find yourself in this awful, stressful position. It's really not on. The landlord is being very obstructive too and really unkind to someone who has been treated very badly.

    Can you also discuss this matter with the benefits office and tell them that because the lettings agent made a mistake, you are now suffering hardship and need their help rather than withdrawal of benefits?  Or is your carer allowed to do this for you?

    Citizens advice can help  : Adviceline (England): 0800 144 8848

    I've assumed you're in England but if not you can contact them on other numbers

    https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/about-us/contact-us/contact-us/contact-us/

    And you can even 'speak' to someone online.

    If they are busy it's worth hanging on as they are free numbers.

    One of my friends contacted Citizens Advice when she was refused benefits and had to go to a tribunal, they really helped and allocated an advocate to her. That's what you need, someone who knows what they are doing, to support you during this very stressful time. 

    I do hope you can get this sorted out. On paper (or online in this case) it does look like something that would be very easy to fix and it's hard to understand why bureaucracy is making things so very difficult for people who need the help most. I hope you can get this sorted very soon.

    All best wishes x
  • wilfred30wilfred30 Forumite
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    If you've got a joint tenancy, didn't your live in carer have to sign the TA as well as you?
  • tomtom256tomtom256 Forumite
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    wilfred30 said:
    If you've got a joint tenancy, didn't your live in carer have to sign the TA as well as you?
    Exactly what I was going to ask. Why did you query this and change it prior to signing it?
    Are they a carer and a joint tenant or just a carer?

  • sammyjammysammyjammy Forumite
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    So this carer sleeps at your property every night?  Do you pay them and are they a family member/friend?
    "You've been reading SOS when it's just your clock reading 5:05 "
  • NoLifeWithoutMSENoLifeWithoutMSE Forumite
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    MalMonroe said:
    Hi, I'm so sorry to hear of all the trouble you're having.

    Have you tried to speak to the lettings agent? It's because of their error that you now find yourself in this awful, stressful position. It's really not on. The landlord is being very obstructive too and really unkind to someone who has been treated very badly.

    Can you also discuss this matter with the benefits office and tell them that because the lettings agent made a mistake, you are now suffering hardship and need their help rather than withdrawal of benefits?  Or is your carer allowed to do this for you?

    Citizens advice can help  : Adviceline (England): 0800 144 8848

    I've assumed you're in England but if not you can contact them on other numbers

    https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/about-us/contact-us/contact-us/contact-us/

    And you can even 'speak' to someone online.

    If they are busy it's worth hanging on as they are free numbers.

    One of my friends contacted Citizens Advice when she was refused benefits and had to go to a tribunal, they really helped and allocated an advocate to her. That's what you need, someone who knows what they are doing, to support you during this very stressful time. 

    I do hope you can get this sorted out. On paper (or online in this case) it does look like something that would be very easy to fix and it's hard to understand why bureaucracy is making things so very difficult for people who need the help most. I hope you can get this sorted very soon.

    All best wishes x
    Thank you very much for this, Mal. I have tried speaking to the lettings agent, but as expected, they only seem to care about receiving their cut of the rent and won't change the agreement until arrears are paid and won't use the initial date of the start of the agreement. I'm quite worried that the benefits office won't understand and I'd be shooting myself in the foot by asking them for help... I'll definitely contact the organisations you've mentioned. I agree regarding the beaurocracy - it should be a quick, simple fix, yet it seems like those with power misuse it to get what they want when they want it... Thank you so much!

    tomtom256 said:
    wilfred30 said:
    If you've got a joint tenancy, didn't your live in carer have to sign the TA as well as you?
    Exactly what I was going to ask. Why did you query this and change it prior to signing it?
    Are they a carer and a joint tenant or just a carer?

    This is my first time renting without help with the process. I was told that only my name would be on the agreement, but then when it came to signing time, they put both names on. I didn't know better to query it and thought the lettings agent knows better as it was my first time. So my live-in carer did have to sign the agreement too and they don't totally understand this stuff either as they have never rented themselves - I shouldn't have trusted that the lettings people know better and should've queried it in the beginning. My carer is therefore a joint tenant on the agreement, despite the fact they are only meant to be the carer.

    So this carer sleeps at your property every night?  Do you pay them and are they a family member/friend?
    The carer receives carer's allowance as they are my full-time carer, and they are a family member.
  • calcotticalcotti Forumite
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    Does your carer have any income other than the Carer’s Allowance? Have you checked whether they would have any entitlement to Universal Credit (which would include help with their half of the rent if they are a joint tenant)?
    Information I post is for England unless otherwise stated. Some rules may be different in other parts of UK.
  • A_LertA_Lert Forumite
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    It's harsh but this is all your and your carer's mistake. You both signed that joint tenancy.

    Was your carer under 18 when they signed? If so, do they have another home? If so, they can simply inform the landlord they are voiding the contract. This may or may not terminate your tenancy, but if it does the landlord cannot evict you quickly anyway.

    Is this the carer's primary home? If so then they should be making their own Universal Credit claim for their half of the rent. Though if they are under 35 they would get only the "shared accommodation rate". If it is not their primary home, they may be forced to make it such by ending any other rental they have, though I understand some health conditions would make that difficult. Either way you may have to prove the tenancy wasn't contrived to increase your benefits.

    You won't be getting any back pay from UC.

    If you can't do anything with UC then I think you need to negotiate with your landlord. Explain that the sooner him and you sign a new sole tenancy, the sooner he'll get full rent payments plus something towards the arrears. But if you stay on the current tenancy the arrears are just going to build.
  • NoLifeWithoutMSENoLifeWithoutMSE Forumite
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    calcotti said:
    Does your carer have any income other than the Carer’s Allowance? Have you checked whether they would have any entitlement to Universal Credit (which would include help with their half of the rent if they are a joint tenant)?
    I'm not sure how much other income they have but I think they have a little bit which doesn't allow them to apply for UC help.

    A_Lert said:
    It's harsh but this is all your and your carer's mistake. You both signed that joint tenancy.

    Was your carer under 18 when they signed? If so, do they have another home? If so, they can simply inform the landlord they are voiding the contract. This may or may not terminate your tenancy, but if it does the landlord cannot evict you quickly anyway.

    Is this the carer's primary home? If so then they should be making their own Universal Credit claim for their half of the rent. Though if they are under 35 they would get only the "shared accommodation rate". If it is not their primary home, they may be forced to make it such by ending any other rental they have, though I understand some health conditions would make that difficult. Either way you may have to prove the tenancy wasn't contrived to increase your benefits.

    You won't be getting any back pay from UC.

    If you can't do anything with UC then I think you need to negotiate with your landlord. Explain that the sooner him and you sign a new sole tenancy, the sooner he'll get full rent payments plus something towards the arrears. But if you stay on the current tenancy the arrears are just going to build.
    I've realised this and it's really been having a toll on my health. I wish I knew better before.

    My carer was not under 18 when signing the contract, but they are listed as an occupier on another agreement - although not as a tenant. Would this still void the contract?

    Because of my needs, this is making it so that it is essentially their primary home because they have to be around so often. They are under 35. This might be a daft question, so apologies in advance, but how would I prove that the agreement wasn't made to increase my benefits? I feel so lost with all of this.

    Are there no circumstances under which UC back pay rent?

    I've tried to negotiate with my LL so much, but they are truly being difficult. I'll try again with the phrasing that you used - it's really helpful, thank you.
  • pmlindyloopmlindyloo Forumite
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    You say that your carer is listed as an occupant on another tenancy agreement.  Does this mean that your carer does not live with you all the time?

    If so, how many days/nights  a week do they 'live' at your home?

    If they live with you full time then I think you are lucky that the landlord is considering changing the tenancy agreement.  This is a contract and you both signed it making it legally binding.

    Did the letting agent do a financial assessment on your carer as a joint carer?

    You are a bit vague about your carer's income/capital. 

    Was it agreed between you that your carer would pay towards your rent/food/ utilities if they live with you full time?

    You may be able to apply for a discretionary housing payment to pay the arrears but it would be helpful to know the exact circumstances of your carer and your caring arrangements.
  • wilfred30wilfred30 Forumite
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    calcotti said:
    Does your carer have any income other than the Carer’s Allowance? Have you checked whether they would have any entitlement to Universal Credit (which would include help with their half of the rent if they are a joint tenant)?
    I'm not sure how much other income they have but I think they have a little bit which doesn't allow them to apply for UC help.

    If your carer's income/savings is too high to qualify for UC, can't they pay the arrears so that you can then get a new TA for just yourself?
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