How to spot a sublet

If you’re a landlord, one thing that you need to be aware of is if your tenant is renting a room to someone else without you knowing.  This can be quite problematic for a number of reasons.

First off, this is called a ‘sub-tenancy’ and is created when the existing tenant lets part or their entire home to a fellow tenant. In most cases, doing so would require the landlord’s permission. Subletting is allowed in some situations in order to combat a housing crisis and to keep tenants happy, but, only with the landlord’s approval. 

If permission is granted, then the tenant is free to sublet, and they are still expected to upkeep all promises held in the original agreement and the tenant becomes responsible for the payment of the subtenant. If permission is not granted and the tenant still decides to sublet, they could be open to eviction and possible prosecution.

A tenant subletting can become problematic for a landlord because there are no checks to see who the tenant is subletting to and they could possibly have CCJ’s. Without the proper background checks, it can be quite a worry to a landlord about who is living in their property; a tenant could use the sub-letter as an excuse not to pay, not to mention they could potentially damage the property and not be held liable.

As we have been in the letting industry for numerous years, we’ve picked up on signs to spot when a sublet is happening. We’ve dealt with thousands of tenants over the years, and suggest to always look out for these key signs:

  • Never hearing from tenants can come across as very suspicious. Every house has wear and tear, but not hearing from tenants during a long-term let could potentially be a sign of subletting.
  • Tenants renting a property bigger than what they need. Question why one person is renting a three bedroom townhouse. Ask who is going to be living in the house before signing the tenancy agreement, and be thorough in interim inspections (even down to how many toothbrushes there are!)
  • A change in furniture and items appearing in the house. Has a sofa-bed mysteriously appeared in the front room or are there more clothes around the house or more food in the fridge?
  • Additional cars on the driveway can be a clear indicator to additional people living in the property.
  • ‚ÄčUnknown people answering the phone when contacted.

It can be incredibly difficult to prove that a property is being illegally sublet. A landlord is required to give 24 hours’ notice before inspection, so that gives the tenant enough time to cover their tracks. 

However, if you do suspect that your house is being sublet, talk to the neighbours and see if they’ve noticed anything suspicious. We wholeheartedly recommend inserting a sublet clause into your contract before renting to safeguard against potential risks. A contract can’t stop a tenant subletting, but it can make it a lot easier to evict them on grounds of breaching the contract.

As managing agents for your property, we do everything that you as a landlord is required to do on your behalf, taking out the stress of renting, sort out any tenancy agreements and even represent you and your property in court hearings. Here at the Letting Co, we like to think that we go above and beyond when it comes to your responsibilities. By constantly keeping up to date with new legislations, and with over 30 years combined experience in the field, we ensure that you are covered in all situations.

Get in touch today by calling 0845 838 2890 or email

All information presented in this article is correct at the time of writing. This blog is not legally binding, and if you are unsure about anything, we recommend you refer to the most current guidelines. 

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