If you’re renting a property, it’s more than likely you’re renting directly from a landlord who owns the property.

In some cases, you may find that you’re renting from a tenant who rents your home from the owner. This is what’s known as subletting. If you’re considering subletting, here are the answers to two common questions.

Can I sublet my home?

Your tenancy agreement should inform you whether you can sublet your property. Most tenancy agreements explicitly state whether you have the right to sublet part or all of the property and whether you must consult your landlord first. As a result, this should be the first thing you check if you’re thinking about subletting.

Most assured and shorthold tenancy agreements will contain a clause or a term about subletting, and if this is the case, it’ll always apply. As such, if the term states that you explicitly require your landlord’s consent, then you must seek it beforehand.

There’s a chance that your agreement doesn’t state anything about subletting. If this is the case, then particular rules will apply.

Generally speaking, for periodic tenancies, you can’t sublet without a landlord’s permission, and they can refuse for any reason.

If you have a fixed-term tenancy, and your tenancy agreement says nothing about subletting, you can sublet, and your landlord’s permission won’t strictly be required. However, if this is the case, you’re still best speaking to them about it first and letting them know what you plan to do.

What do I need to think about first?

If you sublet part or all of the property you live in, you essentially become a residential landlord. As such, if you’re going to sublet the property – if your tenancy agreement allows for it – then you should speak to an advisor first. Several effects subletting can have on your personal situation, including:

Impacts on benefits and tax credits

If you receive benefits or tax credits, subletting may affect these. However, if you consult an advisor, they can do what’s known as a ‘better-off calculation’ for you. This should help you determine how your additional income would affect your benefits or tax credits entitlement.

Council tax

If you live alone, you’ll receive a 25% single occupancy reduction on your council tax. If you sublet a single room, you’ll lose this discount unless your tenant is exempt from paying council tax, for example, if they’re a full-time student.

Income tax

If you currently pay tax, then the Government’s rent-a-room scheme means you can earn a sum of money from subletting tax-free.

Here, you can earn up to £4,250 tax-free annually from letting out furnished accommodation in your home. This is halved if you share the income with your partner or someone else. You can let out a room or an entire property floor.

Insurance considerations

If you’ve currently got contents insurance for your property, you may need to revise this when your property’s sublet. This represents a change in circumstance, and, as a result, your current policy could be invalid. If the cost of your premium rises, consider the new costs when calculating how much you’ll be charging the prospective tenant in rent.

The condition of the home

If you sublet part of your home under a tenancy agreement, you’ll be responsible for the repair responsibilities that are set out in the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985. Generally speaking, this means that, among other things, you’re responsible for:

  • The structure of the home 
  • Pipework and plumbing 
  • Electrical wiring, water tanks, boilers, radiators and fitted heaters

Again, these should be set out in your tenancy agreement.

Your landlord will already be maintaining these works on your property, so you may be able to report problems to them to fix. However, this depends on what’s agreed upon when you discuss subletting the property.
Additionally, you’ll need to ensure that your home’s clean, decorated to a reasonable standard and adheres to general health and safety guidelines.
On top of this, you’ll have to ensure that all furniture complies with fire safety regulations. You should also have gas safety certificates, with checks carried out regularly by a recognised engineer.

Do I need a written agreement?

As with any form of tenancy, it’s best to have a written and signed agreement. This way, nobody can be uncertain about their rights and responsibilities. Model tenancy agreement forms are available online, such as this one from .Gov.

Alongside this, it’s also worthwhile drawing up a quick inventory before they move in.

To conclude, subletting can be a great option, but you must be aware of its legalities. Know your options in detail before you decide to advance, and ensure that you speak to your landlord first.

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