What is subletting a property?

What is subletting a property?

18th Apr, 2019

One of the industry’s most frequently asked questions is ‘what is subletting?’, along with ‘what are my rights?’ So, we’re here to provide you with all of the answers that you may need on this topic…

Subletting defined

This occurs when a landlord rents out a property directly to a tenant, and the person living in the house decides to let a part or whole of it to someone else. This isn’t a problem, as long as the home owner has given permission for this, but this isn’t always the case…

Tenancy agreement

If you begin to have problems with subletting or want to prevent this from happening, it’s important for a landlord to know exactly what it says about this in the tenancy agreement. If you’re really unsure, obtain legal advice as soon as possible.

Secure and flexible tenants

Most people living in a home provided by the local authority are classed as ‘secure’ tenancies and these last a lifetime, whereas ‘flexible’ ones only last for a fixed period of time.

In both cases they have the legal right to sublet part of the property – with the house owners written permission. If this is done without consent, it is likely to be in breach of the agreement. However, the landlord can’t unreasonably decline – without a valid reason – a request from a tenant to sublet. 

If a friend or relative has moved in with you – temporarily – and no rent is being charged, this isn’t classed as subletting. Similarly, taking in a lodger under a licence is permitted, as they only have permission to occupy a single room and don’t have exclusive possession of it.


The original tenant is responsible for anything that happens to the property – the subtenant has no legal relationship with the landlord.

Landlords rights

Whether you willingly have a subtenant in your property or not, many mortgage lenders and buy-to-let insurance policies do not condone subletting, which will result in them becoming void.

Unauthorised subletting can go terribly wrong and it typically works in two ways – a room in your home or the whole house is being rented out. To resolve this, we would recommend speaking to the tenant directly about the situation. If that fails, approach the person living in the house, and if you’re happy for them to stay, go through the proper procedures and draw up a new contract for them. Do not accept any payment of rent until the matter is fixed, as this would be a form of consenting to a new agreement.  

If you’re still not comfortable with the subtenant occupying the property and there has been a breach of contract, you have the right to evict and begin possession of their belongings. However, if no clause has been broken you can state that your mortgage lender and insurer doesn’t permit the subletting. Your final option is to serve a Section 8 on Ground 12 to your tenant.

We hope that we have answered some of your questions surrounding subletting. Remember, the subtenant is technically your tenant’s lodger, which means they are covered by statutory rights. Seek independent legal advice if you’re unsure of anything, before taking any action.

View all posts by Gwen Kaye

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