• May 31st, 2016 - 
  • Posted by gordonw_CLD

Is your Tenant Subletting? Here’s how to deal with it!

With the influx of Airbnb’s and other similar services, homeowners can now get extra income by renting out a property or room.

However most tenancy agreements in the UK specify that rental properties are not eligible for subletting, but this is not stopping tenants from doing so. This is causing Landlords having to deal with tenants subletting their property illegally.

Let’s explain subletting a bit more.

Subletting is when an existing tenant lets all or part of their home to someone else (the subtenant). The subtenant then has a tenancy for all or part of the property that is let to them and have exclusive use of the accommodation.

For example:
You, the landlord, decide to let out your property. The tenant then decides to sublet the property, meaning they are giving up possession of it and becoming a ‘mesne tenant’. The new tenant is called a subtenant. The subtenant would then have exclusive use of the property and so the landlord and mesne tenant would require permission to enter the property.

Subletting and lodging should not be confused, as a lodger’s landlord doesn’t need permission to enter the lodger’s room whereas a subtenant landlord does.

Is subletting illegal in the UK?

In the UK subletting is not illegal but the landlords permission must be obtained in order to do so. Typically there should be a part in the tenancy agreement about subletting and whether you can or cannot do it. If there isn’t and you decide to ask your landlord if you can sublet the property, make sure you get the response in writing!

Repercussions of subletting without permission.

If you have been denied permission to sublet the property but you go ahead with subletting anyway, the landlord can take legal action against you for breaking a term in the tenancy agreement. This action is normally eviction.

The Landlord must follow the following specific steps to evict a tenant who is subletting:

  • Serving the tenant with a written notice seeking possession of the property.
  • When the notice has expired, the landlord then applies to the county court for a possession order.
  • If the application is successful, the landlord and tenant must attend court where the judge will rule if eviction is reasonable.

The case of Joy Philips

When Joy Philips decided to let out her London home so she could earn some money for volunteering in Africa, the tenant she found could not have a better profile; a young doctor who wanted to rent out her house for 3 years.

However not long into the tenancy, Joy started receiving complaints from her neighbours saying there was an abnormal amount of people coming and going from her house. To which she tried to contact the tenant from Africa to find out what was going on, but to no avail.

Shockingly one of Joy’s friends had found her house listed on Airbnb as a boutique hotel in west London despite subletting being prohibited in the contract. It listed all the rooms of her house, meaning the doctor tenant was not even living in the property but was getting thousands over the rent he was paying to Joy. What’s more, this was invalidating her home insurance.

Joy decided to travel back to London to see for herself what was going on and to start the process of getting her home back. Before taking legal action Joy tried to contact the tenant again to resolve this issue with no hefty costs, however the tenant refused her entry to the property.

She then had to seek help from Paul Shamplina (an eviction specialist and founder of Landlord Action), who then helped her through the eviction steps, starting with eviction notices.

After a long process of eviction letters and threats of court summons, the doctor finally agreed to move out by a set date, allowing Joy to move back into her home.

Although Joy did not get any monetary compensation, she stated that she was just glad to have her home back and in a state where it was still livable. However she will not be renting out to anyone she doesn’t know again as a result of this experience.

The bottom line

If you think your tenant is subletting your property, be sure to try and get evidence of this. Maybe pay the property a visit or ask neighbours to observe if any person except the tenant is making frequent visits to the property.
If you are sure your tenant is subletting it, contact them first before any legal action takes place as they might cease the sublet straight away.

It is important to note that you the landlord must only deal with and accept rent from the tenant (mesne tenant) not the subtenant. If you do deal with the subtenant you could end up creating a new statutory periodic tenancy to which you will be bound by if you wanted to end the tenancy.

If contacting the tenant doesn’t work out, it is best to go straight to the legal route where you will serve the tenant eviction notices which if ignored can result in court summons.

But that is the last resort.

If you own more than 1 property, it may be an idea to think about purchasing property maintenance software. At GNB Software, we are specialists in property maintenance software and maintenance management software (CMMS) which is ideal for landlords needing to keep up-to-date with all their maintenance for each specific property.

Comments are closed.