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Can You Legally Sublet Your Home?

8 September 2020 Simon Banks Read time: 2 min
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Simon Banks

Renters renting out the place where they live is a thing. It might not sound like a thing, but the topic isn’t as uncommon as you probably think. There are many reasons why a renter could decide to sublet their place, whether they’re off on an extended holiday or have a spare room.

But can you legally sublet your home? Or will it leave you in violation of the tenancy agreement? Subletting can be a bit of a grey area for renters and landlords and, if not handled correctly, could lead to problems between both parties.

If you’re a renter and are wondering if you can sublet your home, you’ve come to the right place. In this guide, we’re bringing you the lowdown on all things subletting, from legalities and the role your landlord will play in the decision.

What is subletting?

Subletting is when an existing renter rents out all or part of their home to someone else. You become the “subletter”, essentially taking over the role of the landlord. However, you are still the primary renter on the tenancy agreement.

Subletting lease

The new person who rents a room or the entire home will become the sub-renter after they move in. Think of the scenario as a three-tier system with the landlord, yourself and the new renter. Once you sublet, you officially become the “mesne” (which is pronounced “meen”) and the landlord to the sub-renter.

What is a Mesne?

You are renting to the new sub-renter, which essentially makes you the landlord to that person. That means that you have all the same responsibilities as the landlord does to you. You will also need to perform Right to Rent checks on the new renter. Ideally, you should also carry out a renter reference and credit check.

Why might you sublet?

There are a couple of reasons why you would choose to sublet all or part of your place to another renter. You might need to move for a period of time (whether an extended holiday or new job) but not for long enough to move home. Therefore, you could decide to sublet the property while you’re away.

Giving the sub-renter the keys

Alternatively, you may live in a home with more than one bedroom and decide that you would like someone else to rent one of the other rooms. That new renter then rents the room from you, rather than the landlord directly.

Can you legally sublet?

You may have already guessed by now that it is indeed legal to sublet your home. There is one caveat, however: you need your landlord’s permission. Without it, you could find yourself in hot water with the landlord.

It’s no good getting a verbal agreement, either; you’ll need to have it in writing, with the landlord clearly stating they are happy for you to sublet the property. The only way you can sublet without the landlord’s permission is if there is a clause in the tenancy agreement. However, most landlords purposely don’t include clauses about subletting unless it says explicitly that you can't do it. 

What happens if you illegally sublet

If the landlord proves that you are subletting without their permission, you will be in breach of your tenancy agreement. This means they can evict you and the sub-renter from the property. Therefore, you should always get permission before advertising for a sub-renter.

Sublet away

There shouldn't be a problem with subletting, as long as you have the landlord’s persimmon in writing. If they’re happy for you to sublet the property, all you need to do is find a sub-renter. Just remember that you will become that sub-renter’s landlord and therefore should treat them the way you expect to be treated by your landlord.

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