Tenants who break the terms of their agreement and sub-let their home face tough penalties – if they’re renting social housing.
Social housing and council tenants who sub-let face being charged with a criminal offence, a hefty fine and the threat of a prison sentence. Not so for tenants who rent from private landlords. The law treats private landlords differently.
The Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act 2013 protects social housing landlords. But private landlords must afford their own protection against tenants who break the terms of their agreements.
It’s worth being aware of the risk if a tenant sub-lets, simply because it’s one that’s rising across the country. Be wise and take precautions to protect yourself should it happen to you.
Advice for landlords to prevent sub-letting
Tenants need the landlord’s permission to sub-let a property (rent out a room to someone else). If they sub-let unlawfully, they can find themselves facing legal action.
Because sub-letting usually breaches mortgage agreements and insurance policies, landlords stay well clear.
These two primary tasks must stay on any landlord’s due diligence list:
- Tenant referencing
- Regular inspections.
Meet your tenants in person if possible.
Landlords who invest outside their local area are advised to work with their letting agent. Have them make regular contact with the tenant on your behalf – face to face and by email. It’s essential to have your support team and processes in place to protect your property (and livelihood) should the worst happen.
Be clear at the start that you do not allow your tenants to sub-let when they rent from you. Make them fully aware about the terms and conditions in the tenancy agreement. Check their understanding, especially English is not their first language.
- Verify who your tenants are
- Confirm they can afford the rent, and
- Assure you they’ve honoured previous tenancies.
No-one can predict a situation changing, least of all a tenant. No-one plans to fall ill or lose their job and earnings.
While fraud is thankfully rare, be aware of possible scams. For example: If a single tenant wants to rent a 4-bedroom property, ask why.
Take time to select the right tenant. Don’t rush in.
Build good relationships with your letting agent and ultimately your tenant to avoid problems ahead.
Landlords sleep easy at night knowing their properties are covered if things unexpectedly go wrong.