How to evict without becoming the subtenant’s landlord
Your buy-to-let has been sublet without your permission. You are at risk. Your property could be damaged. If an injury occurs to an unknown tenant in your property, you could be sued for millions because your landlord insurance is voided. Your mortgage lender could insist you repay the mortgage in full – you could lose your investment property.
In this article, we explain why tenants might sublet your property. Most importantly, you’ll learn how you can evict legally to eliminate the risks of subletting.
Why do tenants sublet illegally?
Tenants who sublet your property illegally generally fall into one of two categories. Either they have been negligent or haven’t understood the terms of their tenancy agreement, or they have purposely ignored the prohibition of subletting.
When we let a property, we explicitly explain no subletting, both verbally and in writing. Therefore, if we find your tenant has sublet, it can only be that they have chosen to ignore the ‘no subletting’ rule. They are using your property to profit themselves, unconcerned about the risks that subletting poses to you.
We believe that there is only one course of action to take when we find out that a tenant has sublet your property illegally. You must evict and find a new, more reliable tenant.
How to evict a tenant who is subletting illegally
How you can evict your tenant depends upon how they have sublet your property, and how the tenant leases the property from you.
When a tenant sublets without permission, you have legal grounds to evict your tenant. In many cases, to evict a tenant, you have to serve a written notice on the tenant. This notice details the intention to take possession of your buy-to-let property. The tenant could choose to contest the notice to quit, in which case you’ll have a court case on your hands.
Should your tenant sublet their entire home – your investment property – and does so illegally, they immediately lose their status as a tenant. If the tenant moves and lives somewhere else, they also lose their status as a tenant. They are no longer protected by the law, and you can start the eviction process immediately. You serve a notice to quit, as you would with a periodic tenancy or fixed term tenancy.
You may also issue a Section 21 Notice to an assured shorthold tenant. However, if you take this route, you won’t be able to evict during the fixed term of a tenancy or first six months of a tenancy.
What about the subtenant?
If the tenant (your tenant, the mesne tenant) has sublet your buy-to-let without permission, the subtenant is still a lawful tenant. You can’t evict them without first ending the tenancy of your tenant. When you end the mesne tenant’s tenancy and evict them, the subtenant’s agreement is deemed to have ended, too. You can now claim your property back without the subtenant in it.
In this case, it is quite easy to evict the subtenant, who is now considered to be a trespasser.
When can’t you easily evict the subtenant?
As you can see, in most circumstances, once you have ended the tenancy agreement with your tenant, you have the right to evict the subtenant without serving a notice to quit. However, there are two exceptions that you should be careful of:
The first is if you agree to the subtenancy in some way. You may have accepted rent directly from the subtenant, for example. You may know that the subtenancy agreement is in place and don’t do anything about it. Or, you may have signed a new agreement with the subtenant becoming your tenant.
The second is if you agree to the mesne tenant surrendering their tenancy. While this might seem to be the ideal solution (you won’t have the eviction process to work through), should you follow this course of action, in the eyes of the law you take back the property with the subtenant in place. Any agreement they have with the mesne tenant remains in force, with you as the subtenant’s landlord.
Don’t get caught out by a tenant subletting or renting your property out as an Airbnb guesthouse. Contact Ezytrac today on +44 1522 503 717 and we’ll discuss how our investment property management services are designed to maximise your rental income while protecting your property (and you) from rogue tenants.
Yours in effortless property management,
Brett Alegre-Wood MARLA MNAEA