What happens to a tenancy when the tenant dies or a tenant couple split up has led to many legal cases over the years.

A recent case dealt with a situation in which one of the tenants of a house wished to end the tenancy after splitting up with her husband.

The wife sent a notice to the council to terminate the tenancy. The council accepted it. However, her husband wished to remain in the property and asked the council to transfer the tenancy into his name alone. The council refused and eventually brought proceedings for possession of the property.

The husband argued that the council’s action infringed his right to respect for his home under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which covers a person’s right to a private and family life, and also his right to ‘peaceful enjoyment of his possessions’ under Article 1 of the Protocol to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

The dispute went all the way to the Supreme Court, which ruled that the husband could not prevent the council’s application for possession of the property.

This case clarifies that it only takes one of a pair of joint tenants to give an effective notice of the termination of the tenancy and that reliance on a human rights argument by a dissenting joint tenant is unlikely to be successful.

It may take two to tango, but it only takes one to break a tenancy.


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