As a landlord, the idea of your tenant illegally subletting your property is one that may keep you awake at night. But unfortunately this is a common problem across the UK.
So what should you do if it happens to you? And how should you reduce the chances of it happening in the first place? Here’s a landlord’s guide to illegal sublets.
What Is Illegal Subletting?
Illegal subletting varies from case to case, but the basic idea is that your tenant decides not to live in your property and instead lets it out for a profit. They may even let out rooms by the night or week.
The tenant may never move into the property, or they might move in for a few weeks to make the situation look normal before letting it out to their own tenants.
How to Spot Subletting
There are various signs that can indicate your property is being used for subletting:
- A tenant renting a property that is larger than they seem to need
- Complaints about lots of noise or people going in and out all the time
- A tenant offering to pay a large amount of rent upfront
If you inspect the property, look out for signs of other inhabitants, including beds, sleeping bags, more rubbish than you would expect, etc.
What to Do if You Discover Subletting
Subletting is not always illegal. In fact, you may arrange with your tenant to sublet the property in return for a guaranteed rent for a number of years.
But in the case of illegal subletting, the tenant does not have your permission. It might affect your mortgage or your home insurance. It might even turn your property into an HMO, in which case you will need an HMO licence.
If your tenant is receiving housing benefit, you can report them to the council. You may also want to report the situation to the council if your property has been turned into an unlicensed HMO to avoid receiving a fine.
You should try to contact your tenant as soon as possible. This might not be easy, but if the subtenants are paying rent to them, they could help you to locate your tenant.
Let them know about the clause in the tenancy agreement that prevents them from subletting, and tell them they are in breach of the agreement. State what you plan to do if they do not resolve the situation, and give them a set period of time, perhaps 30 days, to sort it out.
If the problem persists, you can end the tenancy by taking court action. Just remember that you will need to legally end the tenancy before you can evict them or start a new tenancy agreement with another tenant.
Reduce the Chances of Illegal Subletting Happening to You
You can’t always prevent illegal subletting, but you can take steps to reduce the chances of it happening. The best way to reduce the risk to you is to carry out proper referencing. Our Tenant Referencing service can help you here.
You need to verify who the tenant says they are and that they can afford to pay the rent. You should also find out from previous landlords about their experiences.
People can look friendly and professional on the outside. But if you do not carry out a detailed reference check, you are leaving yourself open to being scammed.