Posted on 24 July 2020

What is Subletting?


Subletting happens when an existing tenant lets all or part of their home to someone else who is known as a subtenant. Many tenants need permission before they can sublet.

This will provide information and advice on housing issues if you are thinking about subletting your home and what could happen if you don’t go about it in the right way.


What happens if you sublet without permission?


Certain tenants living in social housing may be committing a criminal offense if they sublet their home without their landlord/ agent’s permission or by going against what it says in their tenancy agreement.

Unlawful subletting of social housing is a serious matter because as well as the risk of being prosecuted under criminal law, you could also lose your home.


What are the offenses of unlawful subletting?


There are two offences of unlawful subletting. You will have committed the first offence if:

  • you have broken a term of your tenancy agreement by subletting all of your home. Subletting part of your home also counts, but if you are a secure or flexible tenant it only applies if you didn’t get your landlord’s written consent, and
  • you no longer live in the property as your only or principal home, and
  • you sublet the property knowing that you were breaking your tenancy agreement.

The second offense is similar to the first one. The main difference is that for the first offense it is enough for someone to know that subletting is against their tenancy agreement, the second offense requires the person to have acted dishonestly when subletting. This generally means that if you have made money from subletting your home then you’re likely to have acted dishonestly. This is a more serious offense and carries greater penalties.


What action can your landlord/agent take because of subletting?


In some circumstances, it’s acceptable to sublet your home, but you generally need your landlord’s permission. Your landlord may take legal action against you if you sublet your home unlawfully. Unlawful subletting include if you:

  • need your landlord’s permission before subletting all or part of your home but don’t get it
  • aren’t allowed to sublet all or part of your home but you do so anyway.

In these circumstances, you’ll probably have broken a term in your tenancy agreement, and on that basis, your landlord can take action to evict you.

Certain social housing tenants may also commit a criminal offense if they unlawfully sublet their home and could be prosecuted under criminal law.


Have you sublet your home?


In some circumstances, you may not have sublet your home but your landlord/agent may think that you have. For example, if a friend or relative has moved in with you temporarily, and you’re not charging them rent, then that is not subletting. Also, taking in a lodger under a license agreement is not subletting because the lodger only has permission to occupy a room, they do not have exclusive possession of it.

If you consider that you haven’t actually sublet your home then you should explain that to your landlord/ agent.


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