What do I do if my tenant is subletting without my consent?
Subletting is legal in the UK, but only if you, the landlord, have given your permission. If you discover that your tenant has rented your property out without your permission, here’s how you can regain control.
1. Ask yourself if the sublet is actually causing a problem.
If the rent is being paid and the property well-treated, you may only need to discuss the matter with the original tenant and draw up fresh tenancy agreements.
2. Watch out for overcrowding
If your tenant has brought in quite a few people, your property may have become a House of Multiple Occupancy (HMO). Count how many people are living there and check the HMO guidelines. Being an HMO may invalidate your insurance, violate the terms of your mortgage and put you on the wrong side of the law. Report the illegal HMO situation to the council to avoid prosecution.
3. Remember that the subletting tenants are not your first concern.
Since you have no legal agreement with the subletting tenants, you have no right to evict them. If you attempt to do so, you may find yourself violating their legal rights. For example, if the original tenant is still living in the property, the subletters will count as his/her lodgers and enjoy the protection of lodgers’ rights. You will only be able to get the subletters out after you have evicted your own, original tenant. Never accept money or rent from the subletting tenants, as this would count as consent to their presence in your property.
4. Approaching the original tenant
Take care to do everything strictly by the book or your tenant may claim that you’ve harassed them or attempted to evict them illegally.
First of all, identify how the tenant has broken the particular tenancy agreement you have with him/her. In many cases, the mere fact that he/she has sublet the property without your permission counts as a breach. Additionally, if the tenant has moved out so as to fill the place with more subletting tenants, they will have broken the clause in most tenancy agreements which states that the tenant should use the property as their main home.
Once you have identified a breach, you can serve your tenant notice to quit and start legal proceedings against him/her, but always try talking first, giving him/her 30 days to rectify the situation.
5. Taking legal action against the original tenant
Your first action must be to serve your tenant with formal notice to quit. There are numerous different forms of notice to quit. Evaluate them and choose the one which is most applicable to your situation. Every notice must be in writing and will let the tenant know the date when it expires. The required notice period depends on the type of tenancy agreement. If the tenant is still on the premises once the notice has expired, you’ll have to apply to the courts for a possession order. If she or he still doesn’t move out, the bailiffs may have to be called.
6. Starting again
Once the original tenant has left, you can evict any remaining subletting tenants and start afresh.