If you’re a landlord, you naturally want to know exactly who’s living in your property. But if your tenant is illegally subletting, you won’t even know the subtenant’s name. This can cause a plethora of problems.
Unauthorised subtenants could increase the risk of property damage. They could also make it difficult for you to gain access for maintenance and repairs. Your property may even become an illegal HMO (house in multiple occupation), and you could face prosecution.
At Global Investigations, our private investigators are expert in carrying out occupancy and residency checks. In this guide, we’ll explain the problem of unlawful subletting and how hiring a private investigator can help.
What Is Subletting?
Subletting means that your tenant is letting all or part of the property to someone else. This person is known as a subtenant, and the original tenant becomes their landlord.
Subtenants have the right to exclusive use of the room(s) that they’re renting. They pay rent to the main tenant, and typically will sign a tenancy agreement before moving in.
If you’ve noticed signs of other people living at a property you let, your tenant may be subletting without your consent. However, it may simply be a guest. A good private investigator can help you find out by conducting a thorough occupancy check.
Is Subletting Illegal in the UK?
In the UK, it isn’t illegal for a tenant to sublet a privately rented property. However, tenants must obtain permission from the landlord to do so.
Unlawful subletting can cause problems for landlords because:
- You haven’t verified the subtenant’s identity, employment or income
- You haven’t seen their references, so you don’t know if they’ve left previous properties in good condition
- You don’t have their contact details, so you can’t contact them to arrange access to the property (for maintenance or inspections)
If an unknown subtenant causes damage or uses the residence for illegal purposes, you won’t be able to trace them once they move out.
Most importantly, if there are multiple subtenants, your property could become an illegal HMO (house of multiple occupation).
A home is classified as an HMO if at least three tenants live there, forming more than one household and sharing a toilet, bathroom or kitchen. HMOs in the UK must be licensed and must conform to strict standards to prevent overcrowded housing.
If your tenant is subletting to more than one person without your knowledge, your property may be an illegal HMO. This would invalidate your insurance, and you could be prosecuted. The penalty for letting an unlicensed HMO is an unlimited fine – usually tens of thousands of pounds.
How to Find Out If Your Tenant Is Subletting
It can be hard to tell if your tenant is subletting. Here are some signs to look out for:
- You only let your property to one tenant, yet there are locks fitted on individual rooms
- You (or neighbours) have seen people other than your tenant entering and leaving the house regularly
- Post delivered to the property is addressed to someone other than the tenant
If your tenant is subletting without your permission, they may be in breach of their tenancy agreement. This means that you’d have legal grounds to evict them.
You can’t ask a subtenant to leave, as you have no legal agreement with them. However, if you lawfully evict the main tenant, the subtenant must leave too.
The problem is that it can be difficult to prove a tenant is subletting. They may insist that the subtenant is just a visitor or guest who doesn’t pay rent. That’s where Global Investigations can help.
How to Prove a Tenant Is Subletting: Contact Global Investigations
Do you suspect that your tenant may be unlawfully subletting your property? If so, you need the services of a good private detective agency. Global Investigations is a world-renowned private investigator – UK based, but offering services worldwide.
Our highly skilled agents use a range of professional covert surveillance techniques to carry out residency checks. If someone other than your tenant is living at your property, our experts will find out. They’ll provide you with real evidence which you can use in court to take legal action against the tenant.
Contact us today to find out exactly how Global Investigations can help you. Fill in our form, or email email@example.com. You can also call 0800 073 3555 from the UK, or 00 44 20 8287 7770 from overseas.