VIC Housemates refusing to sign tenant transfer form to release us from our flat

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OliWalker

Member
21 May 2020
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Hi,

My partner and I live with another couple in a co-tenancy 2-bed flat-share. We're all listed as equal co-tenants. My partner and I found this place and fully furnished the entire flat and set up all utilities prior to our 'friends' moving in with us (we moved in with them as a favour to help them settle in to a new city financially whilst they found jobs - I even paid their bond and was paid back over 6 months!).

There are two rooms - we have the larger room and they have the slightly smaller room - we pay equal rent (we did furnish it afterall!). We are now 8 months in to our 12 month tenancy.

5 days ago my partner and I announced we'd be moving out in 5 weeks to get a place of our own. We announced we would find a new housemate and complete a tenancy transfer to fill our room and they can then continue to split the rent with the new housemate. Our housemates have also now decided to move out in 5 weeks as they "don't want to live with a stranger" - note this is their OWN decision and their OWN self-imposed move-out date (they have every right to continue living there).

We have had 3 viewings and had 2 offers for our own room in 24 hours, and are in a position to offer it someone and begin completing a tenant transfer on our half of the flat. This enables us to have someone move in to our room in 5 weeks on the exact day we move in to our new place - no double rent and we've successfully moved out and filled our old room with a new tenant.


HOWEVER...

As our housemate's room is a slightly harder room to fill (smaller, darker, less robes), they have refused to sign a tenancy transfer form (allowing us to replace ourselves in our room) until their own room is filled - we are already advertising their room but no interest as of yet.

This means we can not offer our own room to anyone, and more importantly we cannot move out in 5 weeks, due to the risk of paying double rent (something we cannot afford to do). This therefore ties us to this flat until the 2nd bedroom is filled.

We are now stuck - we cannot move out because their room may take weeks/months to fill (especially in a Covid-era with high supply and low demand for rental properties), despite our own room already having two offers and us being in a position to complete a tenant transfer on our room (our room is a much easier sell!).

Their refusal to sign the tenant transfer form and release us from this property financially (and thus prevent us from moving out) is grossly unfair. Are they doing anything wrong by refusing to sign the tenant transfer form, accept a replacement housemate and therefore release us from this property?

Note - signing the form has no financial impact on our housemates. We simply replace ourselves on the tenancy with someone else who continues to half of the rent that represents our room.

SUMMARY:

- partner and I live with another couple in a co-tenancy
- my partner and I have announced we are likely to move out in 5 weeks - we have pre-approval on a new property of our own
- we have had 2 offers on our room in 24 hours and wish to complete a tenant transfer, replacing ourselves on the tenancy agreement with the new housemate (current housemates remain on agreement)
- current housemates are refusing to sign the tenant transfer form until they have filled their own room (their decision to also move out is entirely their own decision as a result of us moving out)
- as their own room is the tougher sell, we are therefore tied in financially to this property until it is filled, and we also cannot transfer the new housemate in who is taking our room
- this prevents us from moving in 5 weeks as would result in double rent until their room is filled (and we then have to also fill our room)
- we are therefore being forced to stay in this flat by our housemates, against our will

Eager to get thoughts and feedback.

Thanks in advance,
Oli
 

Rod

Lawyer
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27 May 2014
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You will not like my thoughts and feedback.
  • You and your partner have decided to move.
  • You are trying to force your co-tenants to change the agreement you willingly entered into with them.
  • You want your co-tenants to accept strangers in their home.
The above sentences all start with 'you'. The problem here is not your co-tenants.

Options:
  1. accept you and co-tenants stay till the end of the lease;
  2. find alternative tenants for both rooms;
  3. find an alternative tenant for your room and you move into the smaller room (rent can be 'adjusted');
  4. find an alternative tenant for the small room; or
  5. move out breaking the lease.
Options 2 and 4 look like the only ones that have been tried, and you can't afford 5.

You have a contract in place and you want to change it. Perhaps you need to offer a better deal to your friends as they are under no legal obligation to change the contract.
 
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OliWalker

Member
21 May 2020
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1
Hi Rod,

I appreciate your response here and you were right - I'm didn't like the answer!

The main update I have is they are now awaiting approval for a new place, with a move in date on June 14th (our move out date is pencilled in as June 20th), so they will not have to live with strangers at any point. We will fill our room and move out on June 20th, completing a tenant transfer for the new housemate to move in on that date. They will move out on June 14th and have to continue to try to fill their room, paying double rent until they do.

They are therefore tying us in to the filling of their room, despite us filling our room and completing a tenant transfer with 4-5 weeks notice.


I understand where you're coming from and do see your points - the response would be:
  • You and your partner have decided to move. - that's a perfectly acceptable action to take, and happens all the time. No one is bound to stay living in a flat-share. Normal process is to find a replacement in your room and complete a tenant transfer
  • You are trying to force your co-tenants to change the agreement you willingly entered into with them. - we lived with them in London for 6 months before they moved out to join us here and have always had strangers living with them in the various house-shares over the last 5 years. The agreements we have shared in the past have all been changed numerous times.
  • You want your co-tenants to accept strangers in their home. - as per my update, given they are currently awaiting approval to move in to a new flat on June 14th, and we are likely moving on June 20th, they will never at any point live with strangers. We would therefore expect them to sign us off the tenancy and sign on the new tenant we have found for our room. This has no financial impact on them. If they have not filled their room, they will continue to pay the rent on this room until they find a replacement the new tenant is also comfortable with. We have also agreed to continue helping to fill this room, as will the new tenant. HOWEVER, they are refusing to sign us out of the property and allow the new tenant in our room to move in. We have also said that we are also perfectly happy to live with a stranger for a period of time, should that situation arise.
In response to your other points:
  1. accept you and co-tenants stay till the end of the lease; - it's become unbearable to live with them, even more so confined to WFH for the foreseeable future - we bot accept we need to live separately
  2. find alternative tenants for both rooms; - we have had 2 offers on our room but none on their room. Another issue is that we are doing all the advertising for the flat and they haven't lifted a finger. We even did a room-specific viewing for their room yesterday whilst they were in the flat. We have also tried advertising the entire flat but there was limited interest.
  3. find an alternative tenant for your room and you move into the smaller room (rent can be 'adjusted'); given we were the ones looking to move out and have pre-approval on a new place, this then seems a bit unfair being the ones to end up staying in the flat whilst they moved out. We would then be the ones to fill their room and conduct all viewings whilst they get off completely free. I feel they have a responsibility to fill their room as much as we do (we're advertising and taking viewings for both!)
  4. find an alternative tenant for the small room; or - easier said than done - it's a smaller, darker room with a water tank taking up half the wardrobe. We are going to lower the rent on the smaller room and increase the rent on the larger room on our adverts today and see if we get more traction. One issue we have is they are not being proactive on advertising at all.
  5. move out breaking the lease. - we can look at this option but we then we risk paying double rent for a period of time as we are liable until the letting agency find new tenants. We also put pressure on ourselves to find a new place by a certain date (if our current one falls through, this is not ideal).

Hopefully the update of them (potentially) moving out on June 14th gives new perspective on this situation - they will not be living with a stranger at any point but will be liable for the rent until they fill their room.

I struggle to see how them not filling their room (remember them moving out is their own decision!) should impact our decision to move out, considering we have a suitable replacement lined up for our room - a replacement they will never live with.

Thanks,
 

Rod

Lawyer
LawTap Verified
27 May 2014
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them moving out is their own decision!
And if they move without your permission they face paying double rent.

They now have incentive to find a new tenant, though I suspect the respect rents for each room need to reflect the size/utility of each room.
 

OliWalker

Member
21 May 2020
3
0
1
Absolutely Rod - our new flat has, as we thought, potentially fallen through (the outgoing tenant has decided not to move) so we're now looking to stay here until a new place becomes available. Our housemates, should they confirm their move out date of June 14th, have shot themselves in the foot and will be paying 50% of the rent until they fill their room - we will of course help facilitate that to speed us this process (we have no issues living with a stranger!).

We've adjusted the rent on the adverts for each room ($390pw and $360pw, instead of $375 each) to reflect the difference in size, so hoping they can of course fill it soon.

Our plans are less scuppered than before - with them moving out on June 14th and paying 50% of our rent until their room is filled this actually gives us more flexibility to find the right place ourselves, and we may give 28 days notice on the current property and pay the fees to break the lease - this is all in time as we'll likely find our new place before we do so, and the outgoing housemates will be liable for 50% of the rent until we do!

Lesson for them - don't move out until you've filled your room!!