12 March 20247 MIN READ

Subletting in the UK, is it illegal? What to know as a landlord

What is subletting?

Subletting is when an existing tenant, who already rents directly from a landlord, decides to then rent all or part of the property to someone else. The original tenant then becomes the ‘sublandlord,’ and their new tenant becomes the ‘subtenant’.

Our landlord’s guide to subletting has more information on the ins and outs of what it means to sublet.

Is subletting legal in the UK?

While subletting is legal in the UK, tenants must first get permission from their landlord.

If a tenant doesn’t get prior consent from their landlord, or if they decide to sublet despite being denied permission to do so, this is classed as unlawful subletting.

Why would a tenant want to sublet?

There are many reasons why tenants may decide to sublet

For tenants who travel long-term or are in between moving or starting a new job, subletting can help them to temporarily cover their rent during their absence

Changes to financial circumstances such as the loss of a job may mean tenants can no longer afford to make their rent payments on their own

Tenants who live alone may choose to sublet for company and social reasons

Tenants looking to make a profit may consider subletting to make some extra cash

Can a tenant be prevented from subletting?

As a landlord, whether you choose to allow subletting or not is down to your own discretion. However, if you're worried that your tenants may unlawfully sublet without your consent, there are a few things you can do to try to prevent this from happening.

Build and maintain strong tenant relationships
By forming good relationships with your tenants, you’re able to build trust with them and build rapport. If your tenants feel like they can talk to you about any issues, they’re more likely to approach you about subletting and their reasons for wanting to do so.

From there, you may be able to work out an arrangement that works for you both. Tenants who feel that they can confide in you are less likely to feel that they must hide information from you.

Address subletting in your tenancy agreement
By covering subletting within the tenancy agreement you’re ensuring that your tenant knows your stance on it from the start of their lease.

For ease of understanding, consider the use of clear, concise and specific language when discussing subletting. This should make any future requests or discussions around this easier to manage.

What can I do if a tenant is subletting illegally?

Should you find that your tenant is subletting without your expressed permission or against your expressed refusal, this counts as them breaking their tenancy agreement. If a tenant breaks their tenancy agreement, you have the right to act and can remove them from the property.

However, it can help to have a conversation with them before taking any action. In some cases, you may be able to amicably reach a decision on what to do next. However, if you’re unable to reach a compromise that suits both parties, eviction can be used as a last resort. Should it resort to eviction, you should follow the correct legal process.

How does eviction work?

Landlords must carry out the following steps to evict:

Depending on the appropriate situation, issue the tenant with a section 8 or section 21 notice with a clear and specified leaving date

In situations where the tenant stays beyond the given date, you must get a court approved possession order

If the tenant fails to leave on time, you should then request a warrant of possession for the court to take further action

It’s important to follow the correct process as a failing to do so can result in the eviction being disputed. Tenants can also challenge the eviction order, in cases of discrimination or wrongful lease termination.

Eviction legislation around the UK
It’s important to note that Scotland, England, Northern Ireland and Wales have different legal requirements when it comes to legislation and eviction notice.

What is the difference between a tenant, subtenant and lodger?

The key features of each type of tenancy


  • You pay rent to live in the property without a landlord
  • You sign a lease or rental agreement
  • You rent directly from the head landlord, who owns the property
  • You have exclusive use of all rooms including kitchen and bathroom
  • Your landlord needs your permission to enter the property and has to give prior notice of any visits or inspections
  • Your landlord must protect your deposit through the appropriate scheme or service
  • Your notice period is one month


  • You sublease or rent all or part of the rental property from a tenant, not the head landlord
  • You don’t typically have a direct relationship with the head landlord
  • You may or may not live with your sublandlord
  • You have exclusive use of their room/rooms you are renting
  • Your sublandlord needs permission to enter your room
  • Your tenancy would normally end when your sublandlord leaves the property


  • You live with your landlord in their home
  • You have shared use of the household, including the kitchen and bathroom
  • Your landlord can enter your room without your authorisation
  • You must follow any existing house rules already in place
  • It’s down to your landlord’s discretion whether or not they choose to use a protection scheme for your deposit
  • You’ll have a shorter notice period than standard tenants, usually depending on the frequency of your rent payments
  • You may be asked to switch rooms during your stay
  • Your landlord may offer you cleaning and cooking services

What is rent to rent?

Rent to rent, also known as R2R, involves an individual renting a property from a landlord long-term, with the intention to rent it out to someone else. The landlord agrees to this arrangement and essentially hands the property over to the tenant to acts as the new landlord. The tenant is then effectively responsible for overseeing and managing the property, rent and any future tenants.

Usually in rent-to-rent situations, the tenant renting out the property will pay the landlord ‘guaranteed rent’. Guaranteed rent is typically lower than what the tenant will go on to charge for rent. Many landlords accept guaranteed rent as it means they can secure a regular income without the additional effort of renting the property out themselves.

Subletting as a landlord

When it comes to navigating the world of subletting, whether you decide to allow subletting or not it can help to try and strike a balance between managing good relationships with your tenants, and setting clear rules and expectations. This helps ensure the security of your property while creating a positive environment for both you, and your tenants. If you decide to allow subletting on your property you should let your insurance provider know, as failure to report this could impact your insurance agreement.

AXA landlord insurance from £174*

Protect what matters today.
You take care of your tenants, let us take care of your cover.

All links are checked and valid at time of publishing, 12 March 2024.

*10% of our customers paid this or less between January and March 2024.