A recent survey showed that around one in six tenants have rented out part or all of their property to someone who is not on their lease agreement. Around a quarter of these do not bother to check the terms of their contract to see whether it is even permitted. Many landlords are understandably upset about this, since it involves people living in their property they do not know and have not vetted.
There is further evidence that the problem will grow over the coming months and years, for a number of reasons. One is the squeeze on housing that has seen rents soar. “The average monthly rent across the UK currently stands at £739,” commented Nick Breton, head of landlords’ insurance provider Direct Line for Business.
“This means on average, approximately a third of people’s income goes towards accommodation. With the market having seen a five per cent increase in average rents in the last year, it seems that a larger number of renters are tempted to offset this expense by sub-letting their properties.” Moreover, services like Airbnb have given tenants a way to access an unofficial market easily – both for short-term holidays and on a longer-term basis.
The problem can be distressing and annoying for landlords, and there has been a significant increase in legal cases involving tenants who have been sub-letting. In fact, it is set to become the leading cause of eviction. Around one in nine instances in which the landlord discovers a tenant has been sub-letting results in eviction, with a substantial proportion of these tenants losing their deposit in the process.
Landlords, particularly new landlords, should be aware that organised sub-letting scams are becoming more common, and any kind of sub-letting may carry insurance implications, because most policies will not cover sub-letting. If you are in any doubt, seek expert legal advice.