I Am The Blog

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Is your tenant sub-letting?

Got the perfect tenant?

We all know the definition of the perfect tenant ... one who keeps to himself, makes no noise, asks for no maintenance work and pays the rent on the dot. The perfect tenant?

If that’s your tenant, then ninety-nine times out of a hundred you’ve got yourself a gem, so hang on to him! But occasionally, the reason you don’t hear a peep is because your ‘tenant’ is not in fact ‘your tenant’ and wants to keep a low profile!

There are some scam artists who pose as potential tenants, agree to take on your place, get through referencing fine, but all with the intention of sub-letting the property to someone else, usually at a massively inflated rent. They probably had someone lined up to take it on before you even let to them, and it’s possible that the person living in the place doesn’t have the right to reside in the UK so this is one of the few ways they can get a home here.

Of course your tenancy agreement should stipulate that sub-letting is not allowed, but in practice scammers are not going to take any notice of that.

How to spot whether your potential ‘tenant’ is actually taking on your place to sub-let it

  • The tenant might offer to pay additional months’ rent in advance without prompting. This might mean he is trying to avoid referencing, but could also indicate subletting is in his mind. He might already have pocketed the money from his own sub-tenant.
  • Think about whether the property is suitable for the tenant’s requirements. Is it too large? Sometimes reception rooms are converted into extra bedrooms so that more cash can be raked in through the sub-letting.

... and after you have let?

  • Keep an eye on the property if you can. You could arrange visits from time to time, to check on maintenance issues but also to see that nothing untoward is going on. Of course as landlord you will need to give notice before visiting and you can’t just march in without warning.
  • If you have friendly neighbours, ask them to let you know about any odd comings and goings.
  • Take a peek to see the name of the person to whom post is addressed at the property.
  • Before signing up with the tenant, think about including a six month break clause in the tenancy agreement so you can terminate it before a full year if you are not happy with the way things are going.

And don’t forget, you will always need to check your tenant’s ID and obtain proof that they have the right to reside in the UK. You’ll see details about what you need to do about the right to rent in our January blog.


Don't forget that I Am the Agent, the UK's largest online estate agency, can help you with referencing tenants. We've covered this in our blog on 22 April. It will at least help to establish your tenant's bona fides!

RLA survey

The Residential Landlords Association is carrying out a survey of landlords’ experiences of this problem to gauge the extent of the problem of sub-letting and hope to use the information they obtain to campaign on behalf of landlords in the private rented sector.


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