It’s not unusual for tenants to sneak an extra person or two into a property behind the landlord’s back – girlfriends, boyfriends, best friends or a whole load of randoms to help stored the cost.
This is one reason why it’s important to visit your property regularly, say every six months or so, to do a head count. Even if there are only the right number of tenants present during your visit, an unusually high number of shoes in the hallway, extra mattresses or blow up beds in the bedrooms or too many toothbrushes in the bathroom are tell-tale signs that they’re sub-letting.
Occasionally a tenant will move out and sub-let the entire property to someone else behind your back.
So, if your tenants are sub-letting, what do you do?
Well, first of all, do you mind? If not, maybe you could just add them to the tenancy agreement. However, make sure you’e carried out the Right to Rent checks, as you have a legal obligation to do so even if you’re not receiving any rent directly from the people concerned.
If anyone living in your property doesn’t have a right to rent, you might be able to apply for expedited eviction.
Also, make sure there aren’t so many people living in your property that you are contravening health and safety regulation. Make sure too that your property won’t be classed as an HMO (House in Multiple Occupation), for which you’d have to apply for a licence.
How to evict them
What if you do object to the sub-letting?
If a tenant has sub-let behind your back, you might want to sling them out immediately, but you can’t. If you do, you’ll be breaking the law.
The tenant might well have broken the terms of their tenancy agreement and they will definitely be in breach of contract if it states that sub-letting is not allowed without the landlord’s permission.
However, you must follow the correct legal procedures if you want to evict them. Unless you do, your tenant and the person they have sub-let to are entitled to remain in the property.
If the tenancy agreement is still within the fixed term, you must issue your tenant with a Section 8 possession notice. This is the only way to end a tenancy during the fixed term and you must provide evidence of the tenant’s breach of contract.
Take note, however, that if you have accepted any rent directly from the sub-tenant, or you knew your tenant had sub-let and you did nothing about it, you will be deemed to have given your consent and the tenant won’t be in breach of contract.
If the fixed term has finished and there is a break-clause in the contract, or if the contract has become periodic, it might be easier to end the tenancy by issuing a Section 21 possession notice.
You don’t have to give the tenant a reason when you issue a Section 21 notice but you must give them a full 2 months’ notice to leave.
Dealing with squatters
Once their tenancy ends, the sub-tenant will also have to leave. If they don’t, they are trespassing (squatting) and you can evict them. There is an explanation about the different ways to go about this here.
*Please note, this site is run by experienced landlords, not lawyers and as such none of the information is intended as legal advice. If you are unsure of your situation, you are best advised to consult a qualified lawyer.*