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Guide to Subletting: What it is & What You Need to Know

Phi Spencer

By Phil Spencer

What is subletting?

Subletting is the act of letting out part, or all of your home, to a subtenant, when you’re the tenant of that property.

Still unsure? To help you understand all the rules and regulations, here’s a guide to subletting.

What does sublet mean?

To define a sublet is simple. It means renting out your home while you are also renting it from a landlord.

A tenant may sublet all or part of their property to a subtenant. This might be to help them pay rent, for example.

Rules of subletting in the UK

Under a sublet, the owner of the property becomes the head landlord. The tenant they rent the property to becomes the ‘mesne’ tenant.

Is subletting illegal?

So, is subletting legal? Answer: yes and no.

Most tenants require the permission of the landlord before they sublet part or all of their home.

As the tenant, if you’re considering subletting, always consult your tenancy agreement. You could be in breach of contract if you sublet, which could result in you being evicted, and your subtenant being evicted too.

Can I sublet a room in my house?

The only way to answer this is to consult your landlord or contract.

If it doesn’t explicitly say you can sublet, you might be able to negotiate this as a term in your agreement.

How to sublet a property

When you sublet your home, you are effectively giving up your rights to the property, as laid out for you being a tenant. These rights transfer to your subtenant.

You had the right to live peacefully without interference from the landlord. So, the subtenant has the right to live without interference from you.

Always run a background check

When trying to find a tenant who’s suitable, it’s a good idea to run a background check. You want to know a bit about who they are and whether they can afford the rent.

Some tips:

  • Meet them in person, multiple times if possible
  • Look at their social media
  • Ask for bank statements
  • Ask for proof of employment

The right subtenant will significantly improve your experience. The wrong one can cause the process to be a nightmare.

Your right as a tenant to sublet

Under an assured shorthold tenancy, you may be able to sublet your home, but it usually depends on what is contained in your tenancy agreement.

Understanding subtenant agreements

If there’s a term in the tenancy agreement saying you must seek the landlord’s permission before subletting, they cannot unreasonably refuse your request.

If, however, the tenancy agreement specifically states you cannot sublet your home, and you do, you are in breach of your contract. So, you risk being evicted.

If you are on a periodic tenancy, you cannot sublet your home, even if there are no terms about subletting in your contract. The landlord can refuse you permission, if you seek it, without giving you a reason.

If you are on a fixed term tenancy and there are no terms in your tenancy agreement about subletting, you can sublet. You don’t require your landlord’s consent to do so.

Considerations before subletting

Before you sublet, there are some important things to remember, such as:

  • Do you have permission from the landlord to sublet? If you don’t you risk being evicted
  • If you live alone, and you sublet a room, you risk losing the 25% discount you get on council tax from your single occupancy discount
  • Renting out a room could increase your contents insurance premium
  • The landlord’s responsibility of maintaining the building, passes to you. You can pass the responsibility back the landlord themselves, but if they don’t uphold their responsibility, you are liable
  • You will have to pay for the upkeep of a building you don’t own

Considerations before accepting a sublet

As the subtenant, you are lawfully allowed to remain in the property until the tenancy agreement between the tenant (your landlord) and the head landlord (the property owner) comes to an end, or is terminated.

Always check the type of tenancy you have. This dictates what legal notice your landlord has to give you to evict you.

However, if the tenant unlawfully sublets to you, and they are evicted, this will affect your rights to remain in the property. You could be viewed as a trespasser and prosecuted.

Need help navigating the renting minefield? From pre-tenancy and beyond, we have plenty of tips and tricks for all tenants. We’re here to make sure you have all the knowledge you need! Find all our renting advice and research here, in one place.

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