My tenant is subletting without my agreement. What can I do?

Property Clinic: There are two aspects here, the legal and the practical

Tenancy agreement and keys from home in a real estate agency.

Tenancy agreement and keys from home in a real estate agency.

 

What can a landlord do when a tenant, who signed a lease which states no subletting allowed, proceeds to do just that? It came to my notice some months ago that there was another person staying in the property, but I gave the tenant the benefit of the doubt thinking it might be friends etc. I now know for sure he is subletting.

He is a good tenant, but I don’t like the idea that he is in breach of the lease. How can I handle this?

There are two aspects here, the legal and the practical.

From a legal perspective, a tenant cannot sublet without your permission, period. If the tenant has brought in someone else who is not on the lease, they have no legal status. You can give your tenant notice for breach of contract and whoever else is in occupation without permission has to vacate as well.

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I do note that you say you have a good tenant, and this is where the practical aspect comes in. I have been doing property management for more than 40 years and the practical aspect is what I mostly rely on now. You have a good tenant who is paying the rent and presumably maintaining the property, and there is no antisocial behaviour: that’s a win.

We are in a very high-rent environment and if he has brought in another party to help pay that rent, well, that is to your benefit. But that party has no legal status. I have come across situations where one tenant will take a property and inform me that they intend to bring in another party to support the rent, but they do not want to confer legal status on them as a tenant because if things do not work out they will ask them to leave.

Equally there are situations where I have not been informed, but to be frank if everything is moving along smoothly, I have no interest in interfering.

I would stress that I am referring to a situation where you have a tenant who is bringing in a party they know. I would not under any circumstances tolerate a situation where a property is being let short term on a platform such as Airbnb. In this situation the tenant is effectively giving up control and the consequences can be disastrous from a damage, insurance and antisocial behaviour point of view.

What it boils down to is this: do you continue to allow a good tenant to remain in the property or do you give him notice for breach of contract and seek another tenant with an unknown track record? While references are references, there is nothing better than a tenant with whom you have experience. I will always give former tenants priority when they return looking for accommodation.

The takeaway point is, good tenants do not become bad tenants. For that reason, the wisest approach may be to hold what you have.

Kersten Mehl is a chartered residential agency surveyor and member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland, scsi.ie

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