Most private landlords will have a clause in their tenancy agreement that advises that subletting is either not allowed, or if the tenant wants to sublet the property they must seek permission from the landlord.

If you do not have a clause in the agreement that outlines what is acceptable around subletting it would be assumed that this would be allowed and the tenant can sublet the property without your permission.

The who's who of subletting:

  • Head landlord – this is the property owner; sometimes call the ‘superior landlord’
  • Mesne tenant – this is the tenant who rents from the property owner; sometimes call the ‘head or original tenant’
  • Subtenant – this is the tenant who rents from the mesne tenant

There are many reasons why a tenant may wish to sublet the property and if you are approached by a tenant seeking permission to sublet you should consider their reasons and the affect this will have on your business. For example a tenant might not be able to afford to pay the full rent themselves and allowing them to sublet might mean you are less likely to have problems with arrears.

If your tenancy agreement states that the tenant should seek permission before subletting the property the consent should not be unreasonable withheld and you should give any permission (or refusal) in writing.

If you agree to allow your tenant to the sublet it is essential that you keep the relationship between you and the original (Mesne/ head) tenant and not deal directly with the subtenant.

If you accept monies from the subtenant directly it could change the type of tenancy that they have and give them more rights to stay at the property than you might wish to grant.

You should arrange that the original (Mesne/ head) tenant continue to pay the rent directly to you and they take an additional payment from the sub tenant.

Where possible all communication should be with the original tenant including reporting repairs and arranging access for property inspections.

The tenant should be aware that if their sub tenant does not pay the rent or causes any damage to the property they will be responsible for this and that could result in legal action taken against them, loss of the tenancy and poor references.

If your tenant has sublet the property without your permission you can choose to bring the tenancy to an end either by using Section 21 or Section 8 and following the correct legal process (see guidance notes).

Alternatively if the tenant wishes to sublet as they want to leave before the end of the fixed term and cannot afford two rents you have an option to allow the tenant to surrender the tenancy. You do not have to do this but should consider the option if you would rather not have a sub tenant in the property.