11th March 2017
Each week, we answer a reader’s rental property question, from first-time landlords needing pointers about contracts to experienced owners. Agony Agent, is here to help!
Today’s question is an all too familiar one, and one I get asked more often than not.
Q. My tenant has sub-let without my permission, what can I do?
A. Unauthorised sub-letting is where it can go all terribly wrong, and it increasingly is. It typically works in two different ways:
1: Your tenant is renting out another room in your property without your permission
2: Your tenant doesn’t even live in the property, and has sub-let the entire place
Upon discovering that your property is being sub-let without your permission, first decide if it’s causing a problem, as it might not be worth rocking the boat if there are no negative consequences of your tenant sub-letting (e.g. rent is being paid and the property is being kept in good condition). If that’s the case, talk to your tenant about the situation.
In many cases, such a happy ending doesn’t exist. Many unscrupulous people make a living out of unauthorised sub-letting, and this is when the reality of the situation can be extremely challenging and complicated.
This is when your tenant draws up tenancy agreements for individual rooms and lets the rooms out separately to strangers, acting as if they are the real landlord. This can lead to a number of problems. First, the new sub-tenants aren’t aware of who the real landlord is. If there is a problem with the property, illegal sub-letters are unlikely to attend to them, and if they do, the problems aren’t usually resolved to a good standard. Secondly, most unauthorised sub-letting leads to overcrowding – this is because the sub-letter tries to cram in as many tenants as possible to maximize profit. Needless to say, an overcrowded property often leads to damage.
Regardless of whether your situation falls into scenario 1 or 2, you may want the sub-tenant to vacate, in which case you can do the following:
- Talk to the authorised tenant (AT) directly to try and resolve the situation – or at least make him/her aware that the jig is up. The AT may just admit defeat and close up shop;
- If that fails, the sub-tenants should be spoken to directly to clarify the situation as they may well be unaware of the circumstances themselves. They might be understanding and willingly vacate. However, if you and the sub-tenants are happy for them to remain in the property, cut out the middle man by going through the proper procedures to have the tenancy negated, then draw up a new tenancy for each resident. But under no circumstances should you accept any payment of rent from the sub-tenant until the matter is sorted.
- If you’re still adamant on removing the tenant/sub-tenants, enforce the term in your tenancy agreement if there is one, and warn the AT to remove the sub-tenant(s) or you will serve Notice to evict him/her because s/he is in breach of contract;
- If there is no clause, you could say your insurer/lender does NOT permit subletting, so the sub-tenant must leave;
- If that doesn’t work, you could try serving a Section 8 on Ground 12 to your tenant.
If you or your property has fallen foul of this situation, and you need some initial free advice please contact me at the office.