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Proposed changes to sub-letting legislation – a good thing?

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Documents released following George Osborne’s recent budget speech suggest that the Government is to bring in legislation to allow residential tenants to sub-let property for short periods of time.

The budget Red Book 2015 states that the government will:

Make it easier for individuals to sub-let a room through its intention to legislate to prevent the use of clauses in private fixed-term residential tenancy agreements that expressly rule out sub-letting or otherwise sharing space on a short-term basis, and consider extending this prohibition to statutory subperiodic tenancies.

It is unclear as to what the legislation will actually allow but the budget red book goes on to confirm that the government will:

  1. Amend its model agreements for assured shorthold tenancies (ASTs) by summer 2015. This will allow tenants in private rented accommodation to request their landlord’s permission to sub-let or share part of their property on a short term basis. Landlord’s will only be able to refuse such a request when reasonable to do so, and
  2. Legislate on preventing the use of clauses in private fixed-term residential tenancy agreements that expressly rule out sub-letting or sharing space on a short term basis to make sure landlords always consider tenant’s requests reasonably.

Although this new legislation would seem to offer more flexibility to tenants our Property Disputes team are concerned that any alteration of the existing standard forms of tenancy interferes with a landlord’s right to let his or her property only to persons that have been properly checked and vetted. There is no incentive for a tenant to carry out the same level of due diligence that a landlord would increasing the risk to landlords.

Also, although the proposals seem to relate only to part of a property, there is nothing to indicate that the original tenant should be obliged to remain in the property too. Meaning the tenant could vacate, leaving a sub tenant behind about whom the landlord has no information and has no contractual relationship. Further questions may also arise about the return of a tenant’s deposit. Again leaving a far from ideal situation for the landlord.

If you need legal advice about your tenancy agreements, sub-letting or any other property dispute contact our experienced Property Disputes team on

0800 923 2070     Email

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