Research suggests a third of UK tenants sublet without consent

Around a third of private rented sector tenants in the UK say they are currently subletting without the landlord’s consent and four out of 10 tenants plan to do so in the near future, new research has found.

The survey from online lettings agents PropertyLetByUs, also shows that the vast majority of tenants, 96%, are subletting the property for short time to help a family member or friend out and 82% claim they are subletting to help pay the rent.

Over half of tenants, 52%, say that they planning to sublet their property in the near future, with the landlord’s consent and 78% think they should be able to sublet the property without the landlord’s approval.

According to Landlord Action, there is a growing number of instructions from landlords who want to start possession proceedings against tenants who have sublet, via Airbnb, without their consent. Subletting is fast becoming one of the leading grounds for a tenant eviction.

According to Jane Morris, managing director of PropertyLetByUs, it is very worrying that so many tenants are subletting without telling their landlords. ‘It is imperative that landlords make regular checks on the property to check for additional occupants. Many tenants will try to hide the fact they are subletting, so the warning signs can be excessive rubbish and accelerated wear and tear,’ she said.

‘When there is multiple occupancy in a property, wear and tear and damage is dramatically accelerated. There can be increased mould and condensation with more occupants. Landlords can also face expensive repairs for damage and redecoration costs, to bring the property up to the standard it was at check-in,’ she pointed out.

Morris also pointed out that illegal subletting falls under tenant fraud and renting a property makes landlords vulnerable to fraud. ‘It is vital that landlords and agents carry out thorough pre-letting checks. The purpose of referencing a tenant is threefold; to check the person is who they say they are, that they can afford the rent and that they have honoured past commitments,’ she explained.

Last year, the government said it planned to make it easier for tenants to sublet a room by legislating against the use of clauses in private fixed term tenancy agreements that expressly rule out subletting, or otherwise sharing space on a short term basis.  However, it has not yet set a date for a consultation on the plans.

PropertyLetByUs recommends that landlords make regular checks on their property, ideally every three to six months and when doing so should look out for additional clothing and shoes, excessive rubbish for the number of registered tenants, additional bedding like sleeping bags and pillows, suitcases and rucksacks and extra toothbrushes

‘Before taking on a new tenant, make sure you carry out a thorough reference to ensure you know who your tenant is,’ added Morris.