Tenant wanting to sub-let

by Readers Question

4 years ago

Tenant wanting to sub-let

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Tenant wanting to sub-let

Since 2009 I have let a flat that was my mother’s through a letting agent. The agent is very inactive and I was thinking of closing that contract and managing it myself. I already arrange all repairs etc myself. There have been no rent increases since the tenant moved in and I’m contributing to a new roof this autumn, so avoiding agency fees will help with the loan for improvements – I was also thinking of a small rent increase. Tenant wanting to sub-let

The tenant has always paid his rent on time and keeps the flat in good condition (less good at gardening!) and talks to me fairly often. As he travels for his (creative and fairly low-paid) self-employed business he’s asked if he can sub-let one of the bedrooms to help him with the rent.

I appreciate I may have to pay an introduction fee to the agent to release myself from their contract, but I’m not sure about the sub-letting.

The tenant is concerned that a joint tenancy would make his position more insecure and has asked to sub-let.

Is there any advice on this please?

Thanks

Lesley



Comments

Jason McClean

4 years ago

Hi Lesley

You will not be able to get landlord insurance for sub letting I'm afraid, it is simply a no-go with insurers.

Maybe consider renting it out on a room by room basis if you want to - but the agreements will be with you, not the tenant.

Hope this helps!

Jason

Mandy Thomson

4 years ago

Hi Lesley

From your post, I'm not clear about whether your tenant is proposing to rent his flat and move out completely for a time (which is subletting) or whether he just intends to take in a lodger?

Both these situations have different legal statuses. If he sublets, the other occupier is a tenant, with more rights than a lodger, who is simply a licensee, entitled only to "reasonable notice" (which is usually taken to be be a month, but can be less under different circumstances) without a court order being needed if the lodger refuses to move out.

The occupier is still only a lodger if your tenant simply stays elsewhere from time to time, but it still remains his main home (i.e. his mail goes there and he keeps most of his belongings there, as well as spending some of his time living there).

Where insurance is concerned, if your tenant takes in a lodger, it's up to him to tell his current insurance provider (as well as the council etc). If his current insurance won't cover for a lodger, there are plenty now that will - advise him to google "home insurance with lodger". The lodger will need to ensure his or her contents separately.

Your tenant can't take in a lodger without your permission. I would therefore stipulate that you will only give permission if the lodger passes a proper tenant check (which is what everyone should do before getting a lodger in any case).
Advise him to google "before lodger moves in" for tips on this.

Lesley Hart

4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mandy Thomson" at "11/08/2014 - 13:09":

Hi Mandy, this is very helpful. The situation is that the flat is our tenant's main home and he's there most of the time - he travels away for a few weeks (occasionally a few months) at a time with his work. He is very happy in the flat and was worried about his rights if it became a joint tenancy - he is worried about being pushed out. So I think I'm using the wrong language and he is actually looking to take in a lodger to help with the rent. I'll talk to him again and see what we decide. Many thanks

Percy Vere

4 years ago

Do not permit any Sub-Letting by your tenant. You are entering a problem area here for yourself if it all goes belly-up.

5 years with no rent reviews is a mistake and you need to address this quickly.
Your LA should have been on top of this to advise you.

If he has a problem with the rent then there are three choices you have.

1. Show him similar flat rental prices for your area to show him what a low rent he has (after 5 years) and what he will have to pay.
2. Increase his rent and to nearer a more reasonable market rate.
3. If he doesn't like it...... he can always move out.

Jason McClean

4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Lesley Hart" at "11/08/2014 - 13:21":

Hi Lesley

Just remember that it is your property and you insure the buildings, under landlord insurance. It is not up to your tenant to insure the building, that is your responsibility.

And in no cases I know of, will any landlord insurance allow for sub-letting.

Lodgers in your own home are a different case and readily insured.

Best

Jason

Lesley Hart

4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Percy Vere" at "11/08/2014 - 13:52":

Percy, thank you. The lack of support from the LA is one reason why I think we might be better managing this ourselves. The LA (a high street name) has been quite unhelpful in dealing with the property or tenant. I've ended up with the tenant speaking to me in frustration, so I feel we may as well take it over and manage it ourselves - bit nervous about it! I have discussed market rents for the area with the tenant recently and he is expecting a more serious discussion about that soon. Thanks for your comments..

Mandy Thomson

4 years ago

Hi Lesley,

If your tenant's away for months at a time, a lodger could argue that they were your tenant's tenant (i.e. as you've said, a subtenant). This would mean you or your tenant might need a court order if either of you needed to evict the subtenant.

If your tenant is only away for a few weeks (provided, as I said, your tenant's belongings remain and he still gets mail there) this shouldn't change the lodger's occupancy status.

However, whether the other occupier had rights as a sub tenant or as a licensee wouldn't affect the head tenant's rights - he has signed a tenancy agreement, giving him the right to live there. If the lodger/sub tenant then wanted to usurp his status as tenant/head tenant, they would have to prove to a court that the main tenant had abandoned the property.

If your tenant ensures he informs both you and his housemate about when he intends to be away and for how long, the housemate would not find it easy to prove the main tenant had abandoned the property.

As there is some possibility that the housemate could have tenancy rights, can I just remind both you and your tenant that it is IMPERATIVE that this person is properly interviewed and checked before they're allowed to move in?

Percy Vere

4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Lesley Hart" at "11/08/2014 - 14:01":

I bet I could name that High St. LA within 10 guesses as well. lol

If you have good reasons to leave this LA then you must, in writing, provide clear evidence of why you are doing this. Your reasons must have solid ground as well which demonstrates that the LA is not providing the service that you are paying them to undertake on your behalf.

PHILIP PERSEVAL

4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mandy Thomson" at "11/08/2014 - 13:09":

Hi; beware HMO regulations = expensive fire regulations/notices/council licence as when sub-let HMO applies = google HMO and forget it unless 50% rent hike . . .

PHILIP PERSEVAL

4 years ago

Checked google .gov stipulate £20k fine unless licensed = nightmare - maybe better to issue a joint single Tenancy Agreement = single household or simply sell to present tenant on 100% mortgage at 8% with 7 year interest only term.

New olwner then pays roof repairs too and is responsible for HMO future expenses including fire doors/alarms/notices displayed.

Good luck, babe - you may need it.

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