Landlords want clarity over subletting threat

Landlords want clarity over subletting threat

The Residential Landlords’ Association says it wants to end confusion over possible changes to rules regarding sub-letting in the private rented sector by meeting with officials from the DCLG. 


RLA chairman Alan Ward has written to a senior civil servant at the Department of Communities and Local Government to seek the clarification.


The follows the publication of the Budget Red Book - the document which is released after the Chancellor makes his Budget speech - which says the government is committed to "make it easier for individuals to sub-let a room through its intention to legislate to prevent the use of clauses in private fixed-term residential tenancy agreements that expressly rule out sub-letting or otherwise sharing space on a short-term basis, and consider extending this prohibition to statutory periodic tenancies.”


More recently Brandon Lewis - still housing minister until the May 7 election - has told The Guardian newspaper that: “Tenants should be able to ask for permission to sublet their home without expecting a blanket refusal in every case – but landlords should also have the right to know who is living in their property. Our proposals would mean a tenant could ask for this permission under the model tenancy agreement, with landlords having the right of refusal offering reasons for that decision and within a reasonable time frame."


Here’s the full text of the letter from RLA chairman Alan Ward:


Peter Schofield

Director General (Neighbourhoods)

Department for Communities and Local Government

2 Marsham Street 




Dear Mr Schofield


You will be aware that the Budget Red Book contained a number of proposals to make it easier for tenants in private rented accommodation to sub-let the homes they rent.


As the voice for private sector landlords, we were concerned that this policy seems to have been formed without any consultation with key partner organisations.


In light of this, and given the difficulties that the policy is likely to pose for landlords, I should be grateful for responses on the following points: 


- Can you confirm that the provisions on sub-letting will only be taken forward if the next Government decides to do so and that these proposals are not set in stone?


- Why was there no consultation with the industry prior to these proposals being announced? 


- Would the proposal apply to Wales?


- Will tenancy agreements have to allow sub-letting or would it be a case of sub-letting being allowed only with the landlord’s permission? I refer to para 2.235 and would like to know what would be deemed reasonable?


- Would tenants who sublet be considered to be the landlord for the purposes of tenancy deposits, serving relevant paperwork (gas safety certificate, EPC, S21) and immigration checks?


- Would subletting tenants be responsible for Housing Health and Safety Rating System, and maintenance of the property in the portion of the property they sublet?


- How would such legislation interact with local licensing – would a tenant who sublets also require a licence?  Who will be responsible for breaches? Would a reasonable cause to refuse a sub-let come under selective licensing? 


- Who will be held responsible for general landlord breaches by the sub-letting tenant?


- What happens when the tenant who sublets absconds, leaving behind the sub-tenant? Could the landlord regain possession of the house, even if they don’t have a contract with the sub-tenant themselves?  What rights to occupy would the sub-tenant have?


- Will this also apply where a tenant moves in a partner, rather than renting out a room?  Can leases still forbid this or require landlord permission/change of tenancy?  What happens if the original tenant leaves and the partner stays?


- Would a landlord renting out a property that is subsequently sub-let then find that the property is classified as a House of Multiple Occupation? 


- What happens about so-called rent-to-renters?  How would a landlord regain possession of their property if they don't have a tenancy agreement or even know the names of the sub-tenant?


- What is meant by "short term" let?


- Who takes responsibility for any anti-social behaviour carried out by a sub-tenant?


- Would tenants who sub-let be subject to provisions within the Deregulation Bill on retaliatory evictions? 


- Will the Government be consulting on the proposals? If so, what is the likely timeframe?


- What is the difference between the sub-tenant and a lodger?


In light of our concerns, I should be grateful for an opportunity to meet with you or your colleagues to discuss these proposals as a matter of urgency and would be grateful if your office could email to arrange a discussion.


I look forward to hearing from you.


Yours sincerely,


Alan Ward