Should I sublet my room without telling my landlord?
Property Clinic: If you have not signed the lease, you have absolutely no rights of tenancy
Informal arrangements are not compatible with today’s highly-regulated tenancy-law environment.
Q I’m renting a room in a shared house in Dublin. I took the room and paid a deposit to a previous tenant and have not signed a lease. I’m planning on going away for a two-month period to travel this summer. I really don’t want to lose my place in the house as it is next to impossible to find anywhere and my rent is reasonable. My housemates are fine with me subletting the room, but don’t want to “draw attention” to us by informing our landlord. Is it a bad idea to sublet the room without informing the landlord? Could you please tell me what the likely process would be if I did approach my landlord about this? I would like to reassure my housemates if possible.
I regret to say that the informal arrangements you set out in your query are no longer compatible in what is now a highly-regulated tenancy law environment. What is clear is that you have not signed the lease, accordingly you are not registered as a tenant with the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) and therefore you have absolutely no rights of tenancy.
You should have formalised the situation when the previous tenant left. From experience, I know that most private landlords are just happy to have the house full and are not too concerned about the comings and goings so long as the rent is being paid and there is no antisocial behaviour.
Nonetheless, the fundamental issue here is that you have no legal tenancy. If you were to approach the landlord now and ask him to register you as a tenant and you then sublet the room, you are legally jointly and severally responsible for the rent while you were out of the house. Indeed, the previous tenant is in that position as he did not inform the landlord that he was leaving.
While I am aware that this type of activity does go on, the problem arises when something goes wrong, and it is at that stage legal issues arise which can expose those who have not followed the correct format. To conclude, my advice is that you advise the landlord that you’re the tenant and register with the RTB.
Kersten Mehl is a chartered residential agency surveyor and member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland