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Subletting from another tenant

Subletting means when you rent from someone who has a tenancy of the property.

If you're a subtenant, your immediate landlord is the person you rent from.

The head landlord is the person who owns the property.

You do not have a direct legal relationship with the head landlord.


A tenant rents a whole property from a private landlord. This tenant then sublets a room to you.

The owner of the property is the head landlord.

The tenant is your immediate landlord and this is who your agreement is with.

What type of tenancy do subtenants have?

It depends on where your immediate landlord lives. 

If you rent a room in your landlord's home and share a kitchen, bathroom or living room with them, you're a lodger.

If your landlord lives in a different building, you're usually an assured shorthold tenant.

If you live in a house or building that's been converted into flats and your landlord lives in another flat in the building, you're an occupier with basic protection

If your immediate landlord asks you to leave

Assured shorthold tenants and occupiers with basic protection cannot be evicted without a court order. Find out about eviction notices from private landlords.

Lodgers can usually be evicted peaceably without a court order. 

If the head landlord asks you to leave

You have some rights even if the head landlord has just found out you live there and wants you to leave.

You can stay as long as your immediate landlord's tenancy continues – even if they do not have the head landlord's permission to sublet.

The head landlord will usually need to end your immediate landlord's tenancy if they want you to leave.

It will be an illegal eviction if the head landlord forces you to leave without a court order or changes the locks.

If your immediate landlord's tenancy ends

Your tenancy often ends if your immediate landlord's tenancy ends. But there are exceptions.

Your rights to stay in your home depends on many things, including:

  • what tenancy your immediate landlord had

  • how their tenancy was ended

  • if they had the head landlord's permission to sublet

Ask the council for help if you're facing homelessness.

If the head landlord is a private landlord 

You could ask to stay on and pay rent directly to the head landlord.

If they accept rent from you this could show that they legally recognise you as a tenant.

You should still ask for a written contract so your rights are clear.

If the head landlord is a council or housing association

It's illegal for a council or housing association tenant to sublet the whole of their home. 

If you're living in an unlawful sublet, you will not be breaking the law as a subtenant.

But you will probably not have the right to stay there in the longer term.

Last updated: 29 September 2022

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