Subletting is surprisingly common and can offer benefits for both landlords and tenants. But what counts as subletting? And what do landlords need to know about the risks?
We explore what subletting is and what you can do as a landlord to mitigate the risks.
What is Considered Subletting?
Subletting is when a tenant decides to rent out either a room or whole property to a third party. For example, if a tenant decides to go travelling for an extended period, they might try to let their room out to another tenant to pay their rent. Other reasons could include;
- Change in income
- If they need to relocate before the end of a contract
- If another tenant decides to move out before the end of the tenancy and they need to fill the space
To be a sublet, the original, existing tenant needs to give exclusive access of at least one area of the property to the subtenant. The subtenant will not pay rent directly to the landlord but to the original tenant.
Is Subletting Illegal?
In most cases, subletting is legal if the tenant obtains the landlords permission to let out the rental property.
However, if the tenant sublets without written permission, they could come into legal difficulties.
Can A Landlord Refuse A Sublet?
This all depends on what it says in the tenancy agreement. If there is a section in the agreement that says a tenant can ask the landlord to sublet, landlords will need to have a valid reason for refusal.
However, if there is no mention of subletting in the tenancy agreement, as a landlord, you can refuse more easily.
It’s worth noting that in the case of fixed term tenancies, the tenant may still be able to sublet without consent if there is no mention in the agreement. That’s why it’s important to be clear on the terms of your agreement from the get-go.
Not keen on the idea of allowing a tenant to sublet? There are a few steps you can take to ensure it doesn’t happen;
- Include a section in the tenancy agreement prohibiting subletting
- Arrange regular property inspections to help prevent unwanted subletting. The professional carrying out the inspection will usually be able to tell if something is awry. It will also indicate to your tenants that you aren’t complacent as a landlord.
- Try to develop strong relationships with your tenants so they come to you first if they are having any difficulties making the rent.
If a tenant decides to go ahead and sublet without permission, there are two main circumstances that most commonly occur;
The tenant rents out a room in the property whilst still living at the address.
This is the most common situation, and often happens when flatmates move out unexpectedly.
In this situation, think carefully about how you want to proceed. If the new subtenant has caused no issues and the rent is paid on time, it can sometimes be advantageous to allow them to continue living at the property. If this is the case, draw up an agreement to stay protected. Don’t accept any payment until you have a proper tenancy agreement in place.
The tenant rents out several or all the rooms in the rental property whilst living at a different address.
This could have serious consequences for you as the landlord. If these subletting tenants report issues to the original tenant who they assume is the landlord, property maintenance issues may go unresolved and you start to lose control of your property.
What Happens If Your Tenant Sublets Without Permission?
If you discover your tenant is subletting without your permission, there are a few steps you can take;
- Talk to your original tenant first to find a solution
- If the tenant persists subletting, sub-tenants should be informed, and either be asked to vacate the property or draw up a new tenancy agreement for them
- If all else fails and the subtenant refuses to vacate, you may need to begin the eviction process
What Are The Risks Of Subletting?
If a tenant decides to sublet their room, there are a number of risks you need to be aware of;
Insurance and Mortgage
Some insurance and mortgage providers don’t allow subletting and ignoring this could lead to voiding your contract. It’s vital you avoid this at all costs by checking your agreement before allowing a sublet.
End of The Tenancy
If your original tenant decides to move out, but their subtenant is still living in your rental property, you may come up against issues. Evicting a tenant without a tenancy agreement can get complicated.
How Do You Sublet Safely? Tips for Landlords
Subletting doesn’t always spell disaster. In fact, it can be profitable for both landlord and tenant, solving common issues such as change of circumstance.
If you do decide to grant your tenant permission to sublet, here’s a few steps you can take to ensure your investment stays protected;
- Ensure you are clear on the contents of the tenancy agreement and what it says about subletting. If there is no mention, you may want to add a clause to be on the safe side.
- Spend time on tenant referencing to ensure you end up with reliable, trustworthy tenants.
- Spend time getting to know your tenants and making a good impression. This way, they are more likely to come to you first if their circumstances change.
- Carry out regular property inspections.
Protect Your Investment with No Letting Go
If you need a helping hand protecting your investment, we have teams of experienced inventory clerks across the country ready to support you.
We can provide regular property visits, every 3-4 months to ensure your property is being well maintained and tenants are fulfilling their contractual obligations.
In addition, a comprehensive inventory report is one of the best ways to protect your investment in the long term.
Interested in hearing more? Get in touch or visit our services page to find our property inventory packages.