Support, Advice and Experience within the Property Market

Beware the legal implications of sub-letting

From Robert Ulph on November 1, 2019

Most tenants looking for a rental property are looking for somewhere to make their home, whether for the long term or a temporary stop. Our experience at Pennington has been the case, but the implications of sub-letting do come up every now and then, especially when there are changes to household income and finances get squeezed getting some extra cash can be appealing.

I have written before about sub-letting for holiday accommodation through rental portals such as Airbnb. If you aren’t familiar with Airbnb it offers cheap accommodation for travellers – but Airbnb doesn’t own a single property as all the houses or individual rooms they advertise are privately owned.

Airbnb has been a phenomenal success and it is now one of the most popular portals for those looking for accommodation and for many it is fast becoming a go-to site for bookings. There is obvious appeal to both those looking for cheap accommodation and those looking to make some extra income. But there is obvious risk involved too, so I would strongly advise you to do your homework if you are thinking about opening up your own home.

In addition, there are also implications for anyone renting property themselves and the implications of sub-letting through the likes of Airbnb or even renting out a spare room as there may well be a breach of the lease. The starting point is always to look at the lease and see what provisions it contains in respect of sub-letting and the use of the property. Most leases have some restrictions as to sub-letting or use, but you need to understand the implications of this.

For example, a lease may allow sub-letting provided that the premises is used “as a private residence.” However, any short-term lettings via Airbnb would mean that the property was not being occupied as a private residence as it is not the occupants’ home so the outcome would be that any short-term letting in these circumstances would be a breach of the contract.

The upshot is that the contractual side of an assured shorthold tenancy lease must be understood by all concerned – landlords, tenants and the agents.

The best advice I can give is to get assistance from a professionally qualified agent, who is ARLA Propertymark licensed. You can check credentials on the ARLA website as all members are named on the site. ARLA membership requires us to know the current legislation but also carry out Continuing Professional Development which ensures we are always up to date. At Pennington we have a number of in-house licenced members of ARLA Propertymark so there is always someone on hand to assist.

As always, if you would like any further discussion on this or anything else on the local property market, please do not hesitate to contact me.