Regulated tenant, business tenant or leaseholder grants a subtenancy

Subtenancies granted by regulated tenants, business tenants and long leaseholders may be allowed with landlord’s consent or prohibited.

This content applies to England

Subtenancies for regulated tenants

A contractual tenant who sublets the whole of the premises without the landlord's consent may face possession proceedings at the end of the contractual term when the fixed term ends or notice to quit ends the contractual periodic tenancy.[1] In addition, a statutory tenancy is likely to be lost if the whole of the property is sublet, because a statutory tenant must occupy the dwelling-house as their residence.[2]

Subletting is unlawful if the tenancy agreement absolutely prohibits it.[3] Many tenancies contain a qualified prohibition whereby subletting is not permitted unless the landlord consents; in these cases the landlord can not unreasonably withhold their permission.[4]

Where there is a qualified prohibition against subletting and the tenant makes a written request for permission, the landlord must reply within a reasonable time and give written reasons for any refusal or any conditions attached to the consent.[5] If the landlord refuses to comply, the tenant would have to apply to the court for a declaration (which is an order that declares that the refusal of consent is unreasonable). Without a declaration it would be unlawful to sublet without permission.

A mesne tenant must notify the head landlord of any subletting within 14 days, including details of the occupancy and the rent charged.[6]

Business tenants and leaseholders

Where a business tenant lets a residential part of the property, such as a flat over a shop, the subtenant can still be an assured or regulated tenant if all the other criteria for those tenancies are met. Whether a business tenant has the right to sublet will depend upon what is said in the lease. The basic presumption is that subletting is allowed unless the agreement says otherwise. If the agreement prohibits subletting absolutely, then subletting is not allowed. If the agreement only allows subletting with the landlord's consent, then consent must not be unreasonably withheld.[7]

The position regarding consent is therefore the same as that for a regulated tenant.

The position is the same for long leaseholders.[8]

Last updated: 17 March 2021


  • [1]

    Sch.15, Part 1, Case 6, Rent Act 1977.

  • [2]

    s.1 Rent Act 1977.

  • [3]

    Oak Property Co. Ltd. v Chapman [1947] KB 886 CA.

  • [4]

    s.19(1) Landlord and Tenant Act 1927.

  • [5]

    s.1 Landlord and Tenant Act 1988.

  • [6]

    s.139 Rent Act 1977.

  • [7]

    s.19 Landlord and Tenant Act 1927.

  • [8]

    for example, see (1) Jones (2) Seymour v Roundlistic Ltd [2018] EWCA Civ 2284.