Are you checking for signs of subletting?

Posted on 8 Nov, 2019

Almost every tenancy prohibits sub-letting and needs a landlords’ permission, possibly that of the mortgage lender too. In the social housing sector, the practice of sub-letting is actually illegal and a criminal matter.

Why is sub-letting such a menace?

Most landlords rely on the referencing process to decide whether a tenant is acceptable. These credit, employment and character checks give reassurance that the person moving in is accountable. Sub-letting often bypasses the referencing stage, opening the door for anyone to stay.

Are your properties being sub-let behind your back?

If you don’t visit a property often enough, how will you know if it’s being sub-let? Property managers, holiday let hosts and social housing managers often fall in the trap of assuming a tenancy is running smoothly because the rent is being paid on time. What goes on behind closed doors, however, can be another matter.

A visit from a Viewber could help detect sub-letting. They can look for signs that there are more people living in the property than listed on the tenancy agreement, note any damage and detail anything unusual that arouses suspicion.

Publish an inspection schedule as a deterrent

Tenants often do what they think they can get away with and if they know the property is only inspected once a year, if at all, they may take advantage. You can help deter sub-letting by making potentially high-risk tenants aware of a regular inspection schedule.

The 3 main forms of sub letting:

1. Renting out rooms

While the Government’s Rent a Room Scheme is perfectly legal, it contravenes most tenancy agreements.  It’s one to watch out for as tenants can earn up to earn up to £7,500 per year by renting out a room, without having to pay tax. If a landlord is not happy with lodgers, it’s worth increasing property visits to stay vigilant.

2. Whole-house sub letting

Some audacious tenants will sub-let the whole property, perhaps if they go travelling or move in with other people. This style of sub-letting often goes under the radar as tenants will use sites such as Gumtree or word-of-mouth to find new occupants. Physical visits are really the only way of knowing who is living in the property.

3. Airbnb sub letting

An estimated 120,000 properties in the UK are illegally sublet through sites such as Airbnb and the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) says 7% of its members have had properties unlawfully sub-let on holiday-let sites. One tenant alone was found sub-letting 12 properties via Airbnb - none of which she owned, leaving £15,000 of damage in one single property alone. Sadly Airbnb’s also have a reputation for being sub-let for illegal activities and many landlords only find out what’s happening when they are contacted by the police.

If you’d like to implement a regular inspection schedule that doesn’t take you away from your desk, talk to us. We have a Viewber local to every property in the UK and they can carry out a property visit to spot signs of sub-letting on your behalf.


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