Should you let tenants sublet their rooms?

Should you let tenants sublet their rooms?

There are times when your tenants might need to be away from their rental for a significant period of time. If you’re renting to students, for example, it is likely that they will want to go home over the Summer. Regardless of whether they’re staying in the property or not, they’re still going to be responsible for paying rent for as long as they have a tenancy agreement with you.
At that point, your tenants might consider subletting their room for the time that they are away. That way they won’t:

  • be paying rent for something they’re not currently using, and, 
  • it won’t cost them to be away.

Of course, as the landlord, you have control over who you let live in your property. But, this is a situation that you are going to have to consider and include a clause about your tenancy agreements.

Subletting – the cons

Letting your tenants sublet their rooms can be risky as it is unlikely that they will be able to do any serious background checks on the intended subletter.
As a landlord, this puts you at risk of having someone – who isn’t on the tenancy agreement – cause damage to your property. Although you could deduct this from the actual tenant’s bond, they might be reluctant to cover these costs.

Subletting – the pros

At the same time, allowing your tenants to sublet their room gives them greater flexibility in their lives. If subletting is permitted then they will be able to go home for the Summer and do other things without having to leave the lease – factors that can be favourable if they are great tenants.
Allowing subletting also grants you reassurance that the rent will always be covered as tenants going home might not be working and could therefore avoid paying rent.

Things to consider if you do allow subletting

It’s a tricky situation, and ultimately it comes down to how much you trust your tenants to sublet to someone that is going to look after your property.
If you do decide that you’re going to allow your tenants to sublet their rooms, it’s important that they know they’re responsible for:

  • any damage to the property as a result. They’re the person on the tenancy agreement, and ultimately they will be the one footing the bill. This might make them more inclined to be careful in their selection process, and be a bit discerning between potential subletters.
  • providing you with contact details of the person that will be subletting the tenant’s room. That way, in the event that you need to get in contact with them for any reason, you should be able to do so. It also means that if they cause a large amount of damage to your property, they can’t just vanish.

Your tenancy agreement terms

In your tenancy agreement, you should be clear about your subletting terms. Outline:

  • that it is allowed (if it is)
  • that the tenants are ultimately responsible for the actions of the subletter
  • that your tenant is responsible for paying rent on time if the subletter does not
  • that subletting to a person as a tenant is okay with you, but not subletting as an Airbnb (as this is something which does happen).

Remember to be as specific as possible, because if you’re too vague, your tenants may try to find loopholes and sublet the property without your knowledge.
Also, if you are using the Tenancy Services basic template to form your agreement remember that it states that tenants are able to sublet their rooms unless specifically stated otherwise. Because of this, you must mention your terms on subletting in the blank section at the end of the template. To view the Tenancy Services tenancy agreement template, see the link below:

The decision to sublet your property is one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. You should take a range of factors into consideration and decide what makes you feel most comfortable.
If you take the proper precautions in your tenancy agreement around subletting, you can reduce this risk, but there is always going to be a small risk present. And at the end of the day, your rental property is a significant financial investment – whether or not you want to risk subletting is entirely up to you.
Featured photo by Christopher Jolly on Unsplash

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