Joint Tenancy or Shared Rental
A Cheap Way to Live
In Joint Tenancy, you and someone else jointly rent a property (ie: there is just one lease, signed by the landlord and you/your partner). This very similar to ordinary an ordinary rent, except that there are two or more of you sharing responsibility for the lease.
(Please note: the term "joint tenancy" is sometimes used to refer to joint ownership of a home; on this page we mean the term to refer to a rental or lease agreement, not home ownership)
Another option that is similar in practice to joint tenancy (but very different legally) is to rent part of a property, and other people rent other parts of the property. In this case, although you are a sole tenant, you nevetheless share a house with other people. There may be some living areas in common (eg: lounge, kitchen, etc.) and you may have some bills that you share (heating, telephone, etc.).
Joint tenancy or sharing a rental property provides a way of living very cheaply. It has many of the same advantages as renting, but provides significant savings because you bear only a proportion of the costs.
Gill is a student who is unable to get financial support from her parents. She is attending university with a close school friend, and they thought about renting a flat together.
However, Gill was concerned that if one or other of them dropped out, then it could potentially create financial problems for the other. So they found a place to live where there were two rooms available, and each of them could sign a separate lease with the landlord.
This enables them to live together as they planned, but does not expose Gill to the risk of being pursued by the landlord for her friend's payments, should she drop out.
In some cases, having a single agreement confers rights of occupancy. This can be useful in securing tenancy rights for unmarried couples.
The disadvantages of joint tenancy can be the same as for renting. However, you have additional problems in that:
- your flexibility may be reduced
- you have less independence because decisions need to be made jointly
- problems may arise if you have a dispute that you can't resolve, eg: over unusual costs associated with a phone bill
- if you have a single agreement with the landlord, you are likely to be jointly liable; if you partner unexpectedly disappears, you may be left having to pay the costs of both parties.