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Subletting your home

This advice applies to England

When renting accommodation many tenants rent directly from a landlord who owns the property. It's also possible to rent from another tenant who has rented the property from the owner. This is called subletting.

This page provides more information on subletting and looks at whether tenants are allowed to sublet their home.

Top tips

Before subletting your home:

  • check what it says in your tenancy agreement
  • 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.

What is subletting?

Subletting happens when an existing tenant lets all or part of their home to someone else. That person is known as a subtenant, and they have a tenancy for all or part of the property which is let to them. They also have exclusive use of the accommodation that is let to them.

For example, if you decide to sublet your home, you are giving up possession of it. The subtenant would have exclusive use of the property and you could only enter it with their permission.

When a property is sublet, the owner is known as the head landlord. The tenant they rent to is called the 'mesne' tenant. Mesne means intermediate and is pronounced as 'mean'. The mesne tenant then rents to the subtenant.

What is the difference between subletting and lodging?

A subtenant and a lodger can both rent rooms, although a subtenant can also rent an entire property rather than just part of it. The main difference between a subtenant and a lodger is that a subtenant has exclusive use of their room. Their landlord needs permission before they can enter the subtenant's room. A lodger's landlord can enter the lodger's room without permission and often does so to provide services such as cleaning.

In practice, if you share some accommodation with your landlord such as the bathroom or kitchen, then your rights are similar whether you are a subtenant or a lodger. People who share accommodation with their landlord are generally known as excluded occupiers. This is a term used in housing which helps to identify your housing rights. Excluded occupiers have very limited rights.

Are you allowed to sublet if you rent your home?

Most tenants need their landlord's permission before they can sublet all or part of their home. Many tenancy agreements contain a term on this, so you should always check your agreement first. If you do need permission, get it in writing.

What happens if you sublet your home and you aren't allowed to?

If you need permission before subletting all or part of your home but don't get it, or if you aren't allowed to sublet but do so anyway, then your landlord may take action against you if they find out. For example, they may take action to evict you for breaking a term in your tenancy agreement.

If you're a social housing tenant and you sublet your home unlawfully, you may also be committing a criminal offence.

If you live in a shared ownership property

If you live in a shared ownership property, you could face action from your landlord for breaking the terms of your lease agreement. The worst case scenario would be action to end the lease and recovering possession of the property. This action is known as forfeiture. There is more information about forfeiture on the GOV.UK website.

  • 'Residential long leaseholders - a guide to your rights and responsibilities' - GOV.UK at

Apart from permission, what else do you need to think about if you want to sublet your home?

Before subletting part of your home there are a number of important things that you need to think about first.

Next steps

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