How to Avoid Sub Letting Scams

Written By PropertyLoop
February 19, 2021

Recent reports have shown available rental opportunities are few and far between. This alongside the soaring cost of rent has given way to the ideal conditions for subletting scams, with this being estimated to impact millions of UK households.   

Is Subletting Illegal? PropertyLoop

Is Subletting Illegal?

It is important for both renters and owners to understand that subletting in itself is not always illegal. With this being said if the occupants of a rental property are found to be subletting without first informing the landlord, or obtaining their permission to do so, then the subletting will be considered illegal.  

How to Prove Illegal Subletting?   

Whilst difficult to accurately determine, there are some classic signs of illegal sub-letting scams landlords can be mindful of to ensure their property doesn’t fall victim. Those looking to take advantage of a rental property in order to operate an illegal sub-letting scam will often present the landlord with several month’s rent in advance, alongside searching for a property far larger than a single person would need.  

Once the tenancy has been entered into the occupants will also make it difficult for the owners or their representatives to enter the property, consistently rejecting any applications for repairs, or inspections; making it tougher for landlords to identify signs of additional tenants such as excessive belongings within the property and a significant build-up of waste.  

How Can Sublet Scams Be Prevented? 

The danger of subletting scams makes the importance of putting aspiring tenants through the referencing process all the clearer. Not only will referencing help landlords validate the true identity of all aspiring renters, but if they will be able to afford the regular rental payments alongside their conduct in previous tenancies. This conduct will be given through a first-hand account by their previous landlord, making this an invaluable insight for landlords looking to avoid sub-letting scams.  

Further to this, owners are able to carry out regular inspections of their rental property, allowing them to closely monitor any signs of illegal occupation and subletting; whilst deterring any renters thinking of doing so.  

Landlords should also ensure that they have a clause within their tenancy agreement that explicitly states the occupants must be granted permission to sublet by the landlord, or prohibits the practice entirely. This means that the landlord will have sufficient grounds on which to evict the tenant from the property if they are found to be subletting illegally.  

What Is Unlawful Subletting? PropertyLoop

What Is Unlawful Subletting? 

Typically, unlawful subletting will occur through a tenant appearing to be legitimate in the eyes of the landlord, all in the hopes of establishing a tenancy. However, once the agreement is signed the tenant doesn’t move into the property instead finding new tenants to take their place all the while charging them increased rent. It is also becoming increasingly common for subletting scams to try and fully capitalise on the space within a rental property, sometimes seeing modest properties transformed into HMO esque surroundings to maximise the illegal rental income generated.  

Occasionally to appear legitimate the “tenant” will initially move into the property until the landlord carries out their first inspection of the property. Once this has been carried out the property will then be divided, with separate tenancy agreements being created for each. 

What Is the Penalty for Illegal Subletting? 

As mentioned, if the terms of the tenancy agreement state that the occupants of the property are not entitled to sublet to new occupants, if they are found to be doing so the owner is able to take action to repossess the rental property through serving an eviction notice.  

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