Sub-Letting Changes - Yes there will be Consultation

Cast your mind way back to the Budget, it was only on the 18th March.  Seems much longer ago….George Osborne in the budget announced that legislation will be put forward to ease sub-letting of property.

This concerned me as if control and choice for a landlord is removed I believe the PRS will have a serious impact on the Private Rental Sector.

The situation where a tenant can move in a sublet without consent is to be avoided for the following reasons.    

  1.  It’s the landlords property, so they should be responsible for who lives there and be able to decide who occupies their property.
  2. This could undermine confidence in the PRS if tenants can move in occupants not agreed by the landlord.  This control is a reason for the AST’s success.  Why would you let a property when you don’t know who can move into the property? 
  3. One of the reasons that estate agents and letting agents are used is that we carefully vet tenants to ensure that they have; Been identified, Can afford the rent, Have good previous rental history, Do not have a poor credit history
  4. Who is then responsible for the new tenants? I am concerned about tenants creating HMO’s which carry an increased fire risk.  Frankly a lot of Letting Agents, let alone landlords and tenants are ignorant of the 2004 Housing Act and it’s definition of the HMO.   This could force good lets into sub-lets which downgrade the quality of the housing with greater occupation. The government could create a whole raft of new rogue 2nd tier landlords.
  5.  Who will be responsible if a sub-let breaks the law over occupancy levels as defined by Housing Act 198 Part X Overcrowding.
  6. Failure of existing tenants to leave the property at the end of the tenancy, what rights to remain will they have if they have sub-let?  I presume none.  This could create an under class of tenants without the protect of the Assured Shorthold Tenancy.
  7. What about the impact of this under HHSRS and the implications on having different tenants in who are not fit for the property.  Won’t it extend a councils requirements to consider all possible tenants rather than just the existing tenants?
  8. Sub-Let tenants being moved in who have not passed the checks detailed in the Immigration Act 2014 . 

Grounds for Refusal of Permission to Consent to Sublet

Reasonable grounds for refusal of permission should reflect Landlords concerns and should mirror the current freedom for landlords to choose tenants or reject them altogether.  At the moment a landlord is free to decide on a tenant subject to them not discriminating on grounds of sex, race, disability and religion. 

This change was potentially alarming so I wrote to our MP Sir John Randall who was kind enough to send on my letter to the government department concerned.

Today I had a reply which was reassuring, but we await further consultation.  Always a tricky period pre-election:

It is proposed that the Governments model tenancy agreement will be amended to remove clauses which do not allow sub-letting. Landlords will retain the right to refuse to permit subletting but would need to give reasons and respond within a reasonable time period.  We plan to consult widely with the sector before introducing any legislative changes so that we fully understand landlords concerns and can address them in any future legislation.