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Can I sublet my flat?

Finding the perfect flat/house is hard work. Queuing up for viewings, filling in endless estate agency forms – these activities are about as much fun as having a root canal.  So if an opportunity for short term travel or career transfer comes up, giving up your home is the last thing you want to do.

Subletting your flat or room allows you to grab opportunities and retain your accommodation for when you return.

But is it legal?

What is Subletting?

Subletting is where a tenant lets out their room or entire flat to another. The new or second tenant, rather than paying rent to the actual landlord, pays it to the first tenant who then pays the landlord. It is the first tenant’s responsibility that the second tenant pays rent and they will be liable for any shortfall.

Can I sublet my room?

The ability to sublet your room depends on your tenancy agreement with the landlord.  Subletting is different from simply replacing yourself in a flat share should you leave, because:

a) The new tenant will pay rent to you rather than the landlord, and 
b) You will be returning at some point to live in the property.

You will need to check your tenancy agreement to see if you can sublet your room. Even if it says you can, it may prohibit non-working tenants. You will also need to seek the agreement of any others in your flat. Vet your tenant carefully; if they turn out to be a nightmare for your roommates, you may return to discover creepy-crawlies in your bed every night as revenge.

Can I sublet my flat or house?

The type of residential tenancy you have will determine whether you can sublet your flat or house. Our solicitors for landlords and solicitors for tenants can help you understand you rental agreement.

Secure and flexible subletting tenancy agreements

Local authorities in England usually offer secure and flexible tenancies.  These agreements allow tenants to sublet part of their home.  However, the landlord needs to provide written permission.  Permission cannot be unreasonably withheld, nor can the landlord attach conditions to the sublet, i.e. you must pay more rent.  Reasons for refusing a request to sublet must be provided.

Assured shorthold tenancies

Assured tenants are normally Housing Association tenants who started their tenancy on or after 15 January 1989.  Some private landlord tenants are also assured tenants (this usually only applies if you entered your tenancy agreement between January 1989 and 27 February 1997 without receiving notification that the tenancy was an assured shorthold tenancy. 

If you rent from a private landlord, it is likely you have an assured shorthold tenancy.
In both assured and assured shorthold tenancies, your tenancy agreement will stipulate if you can sublet your home or one of it’s rooms.  If the agreement says yes, your landlord cannot unreasonably withhold their consent.  However, if your tenancy is a periodic tenancy, i.e. running from week to week or month to month, the landlord can refuse to allow subletting, and no reason is required.

If you have a fixed term tenancy, i.e. one year, and the tenancy agreement says nothing about subletting, you may not need your landlord’s permission.  However, it is prudent to get legal advice before subletting a room or property to ensure your interests are protected.

Introductory tenancies

Local authorities have introduced introductory tenancies to protect their interests.  These last for one year and are a form of a trial tenancy.  If there are no problems, you are likely to become a secure tenant.

In most cases, an introductory tenancy agreement will not permit subletting, or if it does, it will only permit subletting part of the property and the landlord’s consent will be required.

Protected tenancies

Protected or regulated tenancies are leases granted before 15 January 1989 between the tenant and a private landlord.  It may be possible to sublet all or part of your home, but again, the tenancy agreement will dictate the terms of permission.

So, Can I sublet my flat/room?

Subletting a room or home without checking the subletting clause in your tenancy agreement or simply ignoring it risks you being evicted from your home and being liable to your landlord for damages.  To be safe, it is always best to receive legal advice prior to subletting any part of your property.

Guillaumes Weybridge solicitors are a full-service law firm.  We have a highly experienced residential property law team who can assist you with all matters concerning subletting, as well as expert commercial property lawyers and property dispute solicitors.  To make an appointment, please get in touch with our team.

14 June 2019
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