Check if you can sublet your home
When renting accommodation many people rent directly from a landlord who owns the property. It's also possible to rent from another contract holder who has rented the property from the owner. This is called subletting. The person you sublet to is called a sub-holder.
Before subletting your home:
- check what it says in the written statement of your contract
- check if subletting could affect your income or benefits
- in most cases you'll need permission, so write to your landlord explaining your situation and ask for their consent
- be aware that if you don't do things properly it could lead to problems in the long-term
The difference between subletting and lodging
A sub-holder and a lodger can both rent rooms, although a sub-holder can also sometimes rent an entire property rather than just part of it.
The main difference between a sub-holder and a lodger is that a sub-holder has exclusive use of the space they rent. Their landlord needs permission before they can enter the sub-holder's room.
You can find out more about getting a lodger.
If you’re a standard contract holder
If you rent from a private landlord you’ll usually have a standard contract.
You might be able to sublet your home depending on what it says in your written statement.
Even if your contract says you can sublet your home, you’ll still need your landlord’s permission.
Your landlord can’t unreasonably refuse your request to sublet your home.
Your landlord might agree to let you sublet on certain conditions, for example as long as the sub-holder doesn’t have pets. You must tell your sub-holder what the conditions are.
If you have a fixed-term contract, the contract you give your sub-holder must end at the same time as your contract or earlier.
If you’re a secure contract holder
If you rent from a council or housing association you’ll usually have a secure contract.
You can sublet part of your home with your landlord's written permission. If you sublet your home without permission, you are in breach of your contract. You can't sublet all of your home.
Your landlord can't unreasonably withhold their consent to a request to sublet part of your home.
If your landlord refuses your request to sublet part of your home, they must give you their reasons why.
Your landlord might agree to let you sublet on certain conditions, For example, your landlord might say the sub-holder can’t have pets. You must tell your sub-holder what the conditions are.
How subletting could affect your income
Subletting your home could affect:
- your benefits
- how much council tax you have to pay
- your home contents insurance
Talk to an adviser if you’d like a 'better-off calculation'. This is a calculation that would help you work out how any additional income would affect your entitlement to benefits or tax credits.
For people on Universal Credit (UC), the rent from a sub-holder is not treated as income. This means that whatever amount you charge a sub-holder, it will not impact how much UC you get.
If you're a working-age contract holder in social housing and you have one or more 'spare' bedrooms, you might be paying some money towards your rent already because your UC has been reduced. This is known as the 'under-occupancy charge', the 'social sector size criteria reduction', the 'removal of the spare room subsidy' or the 'bedroom tax'.
If you sublet a room, you'll be treated as needing a bedroom for the sub-holder for UC purposes. This means that your UC won't be reduced because the bedroom is no longer 'spare'.
Rupa lives on her own in a 2-bed housing association flat with a rent of £100 per week. She gets permission from her landlord to sublet the spare bedroom and charges the new sub-holder £45 a week.
The £45 weekly income doesn't affect Rupa's Universal Credit. However, the size criteria reduction for the extra bedroom means that a 14% reduction is applied to the ‘housing costs’ part of Rupa's Universal Credit. This amounts to a reduction of £14. Rupa can use some of the income from the sub-holder to cover the £14 shortfall.
You can find out more about Universal Credit.
If you get Housing Benefit (HB), the first £20 of weekly income from a sub-holder is ignored and won't affect your benefit.
John sublets a room in his home and charges his sub-holder £40 per week. £20 of this would be disregarded which means that the remaining £20 is treated as income when working out how much HB John would be entitled to each week.
If you're a working-age contract holder in social housing and you have one or more 'spare' bedrooms, you might be paying some money towards your rent already because your HB has been reduced. This is known as the 'under-occupancy charge', the 'social sector size criteria reduction', the 'removal of the spare room subsidy' or the 'bedroom tax'.
If you sublet a room, you'll be treated as needing a bedroom for the sub-holder for HB purposes. This means that your HB won't be reduced because the bedroom is no longer 'spare', although the rent that you get from the sub-holder counts as income, as explained above.
Other benefits and tax credits
Any income from a sub-holder might affect your entitlement to other benefits and tax credits.
- find out more about benefits and tax credits
- find out more about Council Tax Reduction and how it's worked out
If you live alone and would like to sublet a spare room, you need to bear in mind that you will lose the 25% single person discount on your council tax.
There might be some exceptions, for example, if the sub-holder is a full-time student.
You can find out more about council tax.
Home contents insurance
Renting out a room in your home can affect your home contents insurance.
Your insurer might increase your premium, but if you want to be sure your belongings are protected it's important to tell them. If you don't, your insurance policy might not be valid.
Your responsibilities to the sub-holder
Your landlord is responsible for most of the repairs and safety in the structure and permanent fixtures in your home - like pipes and wiring. You’re responsible for reporting these issues to your landlord.
You’re responsible for the safety of the furniture and electrical appliances you’ve put in your home.
Safety reports and certificates
Your landlord should make sure your home is ‘fit for human habitation’. This means it’s a safe and healthy place to live, without anything that could cause someone serious harm. Your landlord should have provided:
- working carbon monoxide and smoke alarms
- an electrical safety report within 14 days of moving in
- an up-to-date gas safety certificate
- an Energy Performance Certificate
You can ask your landlord for any missing safety reports or certificates. You’ll need to give copies to your sub-holder.
Report repairs to your landlord
You’re responsible for telling your landlord about anything they need to repair - this includes any repairs the sub-holder reports to you. For example, if a radiator in the sub-holder's room stops working, you must report the problem to your landlord to fix.
Generally, this means you're responsible for telling your landlord about repairs needed to:
- the structure and exterior of your home
- basins, sinks, baths, toilets and their pipework
- water and gas pipes, electrical wiring, water tanks, boilers, radiators, gas fires, fitted electric fires or fitted heaters
Make sure your furniture and appliances are safe
You should make sure your home is clean, in reasonable decorative order and is free of any hazards and vermin.
Any furniture you provide must comply with fire safety regulations. So if you have any older furniture, you should check the labels to make sure it’s compliant.
You also have to ensure that the electrical system and any electrical appliances you supply are all safe to use.
What you must include in a written statement
You must give the sub-holder a written statement of the sub-contract so the rights and responsibilities for each of you are clearly set out.
If your landlord has imposed conditions on your sub-holder, you must include these conditions in a notice to the sub-holder. Tell your sub-holder about any conditions using a specific form called form RHW5. You can find form RHW5 on the Welsh government website.
It's also a good idea to draw up an inventory of the furniture and fittings provided to help prevent disputes about any deposit paid. It can be useful to take photographs to accompany the inventory to show the condition of everything.