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Sub-letting – what are the rules for tenants?

over 1 year ago
Sub-letting – what are the rules for tenants?

Sub-letting is one of the more controversial and confusing aspects of the lettings process. While some landlords welcome subletting, most will do all they can to prevent a sublet from happening.

Before we address the rules for tenants, let’s start off by briefly explaining the concept of subletting.

In its most basic form, a sublet comes about when a tenant rents a property from a landlord and then decides to take on another tenant themselves.

Where the waters become murky is when mesne tenants (meaning the original tenants) aren’t upfront about what they’re doing and fail to get permission to sublet from their landlord in advance.

Naturally, this is going to cause some friction. In some instances, tenants may well be entitled to sublet, providing they are honest and ask for permission beforehand.

Put simply, subletting doesn’t need to cloak and dagger if agreed on beforehand. But if it isn’t allowed, tenants need to abide by this, too. It should be made clear in any tenancy agreement if sub-letting is allowed or not.

Why might a tenant sub-let their home?

Some of the reasons for a tenant wanting to sub-let their home include long-term travel plans, work commitments taking them away from the area they live for a period of time, or family commitments (needing to care for someone, needing to visit a sick relative for an extended period, etc.)

Whether sub-letting is permitted or not will rely heavily on the terms and conditions of the tenancy agreement that you have signed with your tenants. As mentioned above, this needs to be clear and transparent, with no room for doubt.

Scottish secure tenants and short Scottish secure tenants

Provided they have your written permission, tenants are able to sublet your home if they have a Scottish secure tenancy or a short Scottish secure tenancy. They will, however, be at risk of losing their tenancy rights if they decide to move out of your home without getting permission from you first and don’t intend on returning.

This rule applies because someone can only be a Scottish secure tenant or short Scottish secure tenant while the property is their main or only place of residence.

What about private tenants?

The vast majority of private tenants are now allowed to sublet their homes, and this is made clear in the tenancy agreement. This is because most landlords won’t like the risk of their home being lived in by someone they have no control over and no idea who they are.

If your tenants disregard this and sub-let without securing your permission, and you find out, you can use it as a solid ground for eviction.

If you are in the minority to allow your tenants to sublet your home, they will have to register as a landlord themselves.

Should your tenants decide to move out of your home without your permission with no intention to return, they could forfeit their tenancy rights. As above, the tenant can only be an assured or short assured tenant while the property is their only or main home.

You can find out more about all the rules surrounding sub-letting in Scotland by clicking here.

A final thought

There is one document that will generally hold the answer for every tenant, regardless of their situation, when it comes to sub-letting: the tenancy agreement. Tenancy agreements should spell out exactly where tenants stand, covering what is and what isn’t acceptable in terms of subletting.

If there are any grey areas, these could be exploited by tenants and you could find it hard to prevent sub-letting. If you do decide to allow sub-letting, you need to be sure that it’s the right move for you. Chat with your letting agent if you’re unsure about any of this.

Here at Letting Solutions, West Lothian’s first dedicated lettings agency, we can guide you through all aspects of the lettings journey, including subletting, and can help you to get the most from your rental properties as a result.


You can find out more about our current hours of service and our current ways of working here.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us, even if you are not a current client. You can ring us on 01506 496006 where our team are waiting to help. Or you can email us at: rent@letting-solutions.co.uk.


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