Helpful Tips Tenancy Management

Call of the Week: “Ghost tenants”

Landlord Advice
Written by Landlord Advice

This week our advice team were able to assist one of our members with an issue where their tenant had been subletting the property.

This is unfortunately quite a common issue that landlords face, and can be quite a serious issue depending on that individual person’s situation.

The landlord may have a licence, a mortgage or insurance policy which may prohibit the subletting of the property or put a hard cap on the number of occupants that can be at that property. If a tenant sublets without a landlord’s knowledge or permission then they may be in breach of any of those conditions.

Thankfully our advisors are able to offer assistance to our members when they are faced with these difficult situations.

Our landlord was alerted by one of the neighbours in the area that some unrecognised people were consistently going in and out of the property and that they had not seen the landlord’s tenant for a number of weeks.

After serving a 24-hour inspection notice to the property and attending after they received no response to this notice, they found that the property had been sublet by the tenant. There were 3 unrelated sharers where our landlord had been under the assumption it was rented to a married couple.

This presents a problem for our member. As mentioned above, it could put them in breach of a number of different obligations, and so it is important that they take action to resolve the matter.

The tenancy agreement in this instance was still within the fixed term, and as section 21 cannot be served to expire until after the end of the fixed term, this wasn’t really an applicable option for our member due to the length of time it would take to wait until the fixed term was coming to an end.

Section 8 ground 12 can be served for a breach of tenancy agreement. Our member used the latest RLA agreement which does indeed have a clause prohibiting subletting, therefore subletting the property without permission is a breach of agreement. This is a discretionary ground but there is more weight behind it when there is a sublet involved due to the potentially serious consequences for landlords. They should serve this to the property with 2 weeks’ notice with the aim of evicting their own tenant to subsequently destroy the sublet agreements once an eviction takes place.

With the potential removal of section 21 landlords may be faced with only relying on this ground in the future, this is why the RLA has called for a mandatory ground to be introduced under section 8 which specifically covers this issue and means landlords can be confident of recovering their properties when a sublet has taken place without permission. This ground would apply to the landlord’s tenancy with their tenant and to the tenant’s arranged sublet agreements.

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Landlord Advice

Landlord Advice

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