You might be a subtenant if you rent a room or all of a property from another tenant rather than from the owner.

Are you a subtenant?

You could be a subtenant if another tenant rents the place you live and you then rent it from the tenant.

For example, a tenant rents a house from the council and then the tenant sublets a room to you as a subtenant.

The tenant is your immediate landlord. The owner of the property is called the head landlord.

Most lodgers are not subtenants.

Rights of subtenants

Your rights depend on:

  • the type of accommodation you live in
  • whether you share with your immediate landlord
  • the date you moved in
  • what your tenancy agreement says

Subtenants have a valid tenancy for as long as the immediate landlord's tenancy continues.

Subtenants can have different types of tenancy, depending on their living arrangements.

If you don't live in the same building as your landlord, you're probably an assured shorthold tenant.

If you live in the same building as your landlord but don’t share living accommodation such as the kitchen and bathroom with them, you're probably an occupier with basic protection.

Use Shelter's tenancy checker to find out what kind of tenancy you have.

Right to rent immigration checks

If you move in on or after 1 February 2016, your landlord must ask you to prove that you have the right to live in the UK and the right to rent.

Your landlord could be fined if they don't do right to rent checks.

Find out more about right to rent immigration checks.

If your landlord's tenancy ends

If your immediate landlord's tenancy ends, your rights to stay in the accommodation depend on the type of tenancy you have and whether your immediate landlord had permission to sublet to you.

Whether or not you have permission for your subtenancy depends on:

  • what type of tenancy your immediate landlord has
  • what it says in your immediate landlord's tenancy agreement
  • whether the head landlord (the person your landlord rents from) agreed to the subtenancy

If the head landlord accepts rent directly from you, your tenancy is likely to be permitted. This is true even if your subtenancy did not originally have permission to sublet, for example because your immediate landlord's tenancy agreement said that subletting is not permitted.

By accepting rent, the head landlord accepts that you have the right to occupy the accommodation.

Eviction of subtenants

You can be evicted easily if:

  • the tenancy ends for the person you rent from and your subtenancy has not been accepted by the head landlord
  • you live in the same building as your immediate landlord

Ask the council for help if you're facing eviction

Subletting your home

Subletting is only allowed in certain circumstances. Tenants who want to sublet usually need permission from their landlord.

You may be allowed to rent out a room. But if you attempt to sublet the whole of your property without permission, your landlord may be able to end your tenancy very easily. This is particularly likely if the landlord is a council or housing association.

If you sublet your property to another tenant without permission, and have made a profit from subletting, your landlord may be able to take you to court to claim damages. This may also be tenancy fraud if you rent from a council or housing association.

Organisations often work together to identify tenancy fraud and may:

  • take photographs of tenants to confirm their identity
  • visit unannounced to check who is living at the property
  • conduct interviews and investigations to gather evidence
  • run a telephone hotline where people can anonymously report illegal subletting – cash rewards may even be offered for information

Last updated 02 Nov 2016 | © Shelter

If you need to talk to someone, we’ll do our best to help

Get help

Email a link to this article

Thank you - your message has been sent.

Sorry! - your message has not been sent this time.

Was this advice helpful?

Thank you - your feedback has been submitted to the team.

Sorry! - your message has not been sent this time.