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When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Subletting

Advice for landlords in Northern Ireland

This page is for landlords operating in Northern Ireland.  You can find advice for tenants elsewhere on our website. Private landlords in Northern Ireland can call Landlord Advice on 028 9024 5640 and choose option 5. 

Subletting is when your tenant rents out part or all the property to someone else. 

Tenancy agreements and subletting

Your tenancy agreement should include a term about subletting. The standard term says that a tenant cannot sublet without the landlord's permission. 

Giving permission to sublet

Your tenant may have genuine reasons for wanting to sublet. They may have lost their job and be struggling to pay rent.  One tenant in a shared property may have moved out leaving a shortfall in rent. 

Consider your tenant's request carefully if they ask for permission to sublet. You should think about

  • whether subletting will lead to the property becoming a HMO
  • whether you want to include any conditions with your permission
  • who will be responsible for any debts or damaged caused by the subtenant.

Guests or subtenants

The property is your tenant's home. You can't stop them from having friends or family stay over for a few nights. A tenancy term restricting overnight guests is probably unfair and unenforceable.

You may need to speak to your tenant if someone new seems to be staying at the property all the time. You need to make sure the property doesn't become an unlicensed HMO. 

Overcrowding and HMOs

A property is a HMO is at least 3 people from 3 families live in it and share facilities. You need to have a licence to operate a HMO. 

There are rules about how many people can live in a HMO. It is an offence to exceed the maximum number of occupants. 

Two friends sharing a home will create an unlicensed HMO if they allow a third friend to move in. This can cause big problems for you. 

Unauthorised subletting

Write to your tenants if they have sublet the property without your permission. You can ask your tenant to give notice to the subtenant, but they will have to do this properly. They cannot force the subtenant out immediately. 

You have no legal relationship with the subtenant. You have no authority to end that person's occupancy of the property. Instead, you will have to take action against your tenant. 

An unauthorised subtenant is an illegal occupant once the original tenancy ends. You can either

  • offer the subtenant a formal tenancy of the property, or
  • ask a solicitor to get a court order to remove the person. 

Need help solving a problem?

You should always get advice if you are having problems with a tenancy. You can contact Landlord Advice for advice on your rights. Housing Rights can also provide a mediation service if you and your tenant are having problems and need an independent person to help resolve these.