In a rental home, the landlord had everyone sign the same lease agreement.

Out of the original 5 tenants, one assigned their room and was returned their damage deposit from the landlord. Another sublet their room, I'm not sure if he got back his damage deposit from the landlord. When the original tenants assigned or sublet their rooms, they didn't receive permission from the other tenants. This was a problem as one of the new people didn't pay rent and it seems unfair as they never agreed to have him there in the first place.

Was it legal for the landlord to allow certain tenants to move out and return their damage deposit without having permission from the other tenants? If one of the new tenants doesn't pay or damages the house, is it legal for the landlord to then use joint and several liability to sue one of the original roommates? The contract doesn't specify any of this.

TL;DR if multiple people sign same rental agreement and landlord lets some find replacements, can landlord hold original tenants responsible for actions of new tenants even though they never agreed on living with the new tenant?

1 Answer 1


Tenants in common and joint tenancy are legal ways of owning a property; they have no relevance to leasing a property.

The obligations of each tenant will be detailed in the lease. In is almost certain that they will be jointly and severally liable - that means that each and every tenant is responsible for the whole and the landlord, if they chose to pursue legal action can sue any or all of them. How the tenants sort that out among themselves is a matter for the tenants; not the landlord.

If the landlord agrees to assignment then the new tenant takes the place of the old tenant in the agreement. If a tenant sublets then the old tenant is responsible to the landlord and their sub-tenant is responsible to the original tenant.

When you enter a lease with other tenants you are entering a de-facto partnership; you are responsible for their acts and omissions and they are responsible for yours

  • 2
    You misunderstood the question so I edited it and hope it's clearer.
    – SamT
    Commented Feb 25, 2016 at 8:26
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    the lease never included the phrase "joint and several" but the landlord is trying to treat it as so even though he was responsible for replacing the original tenants with ones who breached the contract.
    – SamT
    Commented Feb 25, 2016 at 8:28
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    At least in the UK, I think this would very much depend on whether the tenants approached the landlord as a partnership or not. If the makeup of the "partnership" can change at the landlord's behest, and not the tenants, then it's highly unlikely that a joint and several liability could be imposed on the individual tenants. A tenancy by definition only exists for such parts of a building over which the tenant has exclusive possession.
    – Steve
    Commented Mar 7, 2023 at 14:08
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    A and B sign a joint tenancy with the landlord. Then the landlord certainly cannot end the tenancy with B and sign a new tenancy with C and afterwards claim a joint tenancy between A and C without ever consulting A about the contract changes.
    – quarague
    Commented Nov 2, 2023 at 10:08

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