Do you know who’s living in your property? Maybe not, according to new research.
Direct Line for Business found that one in six (17%) tenants in the UK admits to having rented out part or all of their property to someone who isn’t on the lease agreement.
A quarter (25%) of tenants who sublet their property didn’t check the terms of their lease to see if it was permitted, while over a third (34%) had not informed their landlord of the decision.
Of the subletters who did not inform their landlord, a fifth (23%) got found out in the end anyway. The consequences when landlords catch tenants subletting can be severe. In 11% of cases the tenants named on the lease were evicted with 6% losing their deposit in the process. Other repercussions include landlords increasing rental charges (22%), issuing a fine (14%) or issuing a formal warning (8%).
In spite of this, Direct Line for Business’s research reveals that 2016 could see an increase in the number of people subletting their properties. One in six renters (15%) claim they are thinking about subletting part or all of their rented property by advertising on property letting websites such as Airbnb.
Nick Breton, head of Direct Line for Business said: “The average monthly rent across the UK currently stands at £7392. This means on average, approximately a third of people’s income goes towards accommodation. With the market having seen a 5% increase in average rents in the last year, it seems that a larger number of renters are tempted to offset this expense by subletting their properties.”
Over the last two years, Landlord Action has seen an 18% increase in the number of instructions from landlords with subletting cases.
Paul Shamplina, founder of Landlord Action, said: “Subletting is fast becoming one of the leading grounds for eviction, alongside rent arrears and Section 21 for possession only. This has been fuelled by sky high rents preventing some tenants from being able to afford even single-unit accommodation, forcing many to resort to bedsits or shared accommodation.
“Organised subletting scams are also becoming more prevalent, where tenants, or sometimes even fake tenants, advertise properties and rooms on holiday/accommodation websites in order to cream a profit without the landlords’ consent.”
When looking at who the properties are sublet to, friends or recommendations (both 28%) are the two most common types of sublets. Family members account for just over a fifth (21%), while 19% of renters have sublet to strangers responding to an advert.
Subletting is most common in the North West and West Midlands, where more than a quarter (27%) of private tenants say that have sublet their properties. London (23%) is third, while renters in the South East (9%) and Northern Ireland (7%) are least likely to sublet their properties.
“There could be some serious consequences for tenants who sublet, but landlords need to be aware that in these circumstances there could also be insurance implications,” said Breton, “Subletting is not covered under most insurance policies, so it’s really important that landlords make their tenants fully aware of the restrictions on the lease and maintain that communication that can help prevent any future breaches”.