I have just moved into a rental (Assured Shorthold Tenancy) student flat. Three of the tenants carried over the tenancy from the previous year and I am coming in as a fourth tenant to fill an empty bedroom. The tenancy was organised properly through the letting agency who manage the entire student block and correctly checked my eligibility to reside in the UK (I'm a UK citizen). The previous three person rental contract came to an end in July and I signed a new contract with all four of our names on it. I did not sublet the room from another tenant - I am a full tenant in my own right.
However, the letting agency has not taken an inventory of the house or conducted a recent check-in report. They say that, since I am joining an existing tenancy, I am therefore one-quarter liable for all damages which have occurred since July 2016 despite the fact I only moved in two days ago. This triggered so many red flags in my head, in particular as some of the damages are significant (e.g. the sofa arm was snapped off when I arrived which won't be cheap to replace or fix).
My contract makes no mention of what happens in the event of tenancy partial occupancy change. I did not sign anything which says I should be liable for damages a year before I moved in. The contract does not mention being a continuation of the previous contract. It's just a July 2017 to July 2018 AST fixed term contract with all four tenant names on it stating the usual stuff about being responsible for putting out recycling at the correct times & reporting maintenance issues quickly.
- Am I right in thinking this situation is a huge red flag?
- Is it too late to deal with now given that the contract started in July and I moved in two days ago?
- Do I have to compile the inventory myself if the letting agency won't?
- Do I have a right to force the letting agency to agree & countersign a fair and accurate inventory?