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Subletting means a person takes out a tenancy with a landlord or a letting agency with the sole intention of subletting the property to someone else. It is tenancy fraud unless the landlord provides express permission.
Illegal subletting can also cause other problems for the landlord, specifically, breaching the terms and conditions of mortgage and insurance conditions, and it could also inadvertently turn the property into an unlicensed house of multiple occupancy (HMO).
If you do not have the appropriate HMO licence, you are highly likely to be prosecuted if caught, resulting in heavy fines. If a tenant has unlawfully sublet a property, a landlord is entitled to take legal action.
The combination of rent rises and a shortage of affordable housing has led to an increased illegal subletting market, directly impacting the landlord and of course the subtenant. The benefits of doing so for the tenant is purely financial gain.
How does it work?
Once a person has taken a tenancy with a landlord or a letting agency, the tenant may never actually move into the property, or if they do, it's usually for a month or so to avoid suspicion.
Once they're in, they will draw up a new tenancy agreement for the property, or, for individual rooms within it and sublet them out separately whilst masquerading as the real landlord.
Signs of Subletting?
• Does the tenant avoid you, making excuses about why you cannot visit the property, or making it difficult for you to do so?
• Is the tenant a single person looking to rent a property far bigger than they need?
• Is the tenant offering a substantial rent payment upfront, i.e. six months?
• Is the landlord is receiving complaints from neighbours about the comings and goings of the people living at the address, excess noise, a build up of rubbish etc?
• During an inspection of the property, do you notice signs that other people could be living there such as extra toothbrushes in the bathroom, extra shoes around the property, extra bedding or sleeping bags, living out of suitcases, extra bedroom furniture?.