Two rules when it comes to subletting
I have often raised the issues of tenants subletting. In the majority of cases a tenant must seek the permission of the landlord to sublet any rental property, this applies to both domestic and commercial properties. However, as a landlord it is wise to make sure that written permission is required is included in any tenancy agreements. Should the worse happen and you need to remove the tenant then it makes the eviction process a little clearer cut and does not give you additional hurdles to jump with the courts.
When it comes to a tenant subletting a social house, this is very different to a private or commercial rental. Subletting social housing, is a criminal offence, punishable by hefty fines and prison sentences of up to two years. Although I have not seen many cases reach court never mind the tenant being punished by the legal system.
So it was interesting to see a tenant being taken to court for subletting her property under the Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act 2013. More refreshing to see that the tenant pleaded guilty. The consequence of her actions, two hundred hours of unpaid work and will probably have to return the profit from the illegal sublets which amounts to over £19k. She was charging £850 pcm for her social flat.
Hopefully Camden Council will win the civil case to recover the profits and send out a huge message to other social tenants who are considering subletting their social housing.
Now I applaud that the local authority taking subletting seriously and prosecuted the tenant. My issue is that she sub-let the flat twice over a three year period. Why was she not prosecuted the first time and evicted from the property?
Finally, why is it one rule for social housing and another rule for private landlords, especially when more and more private landlords are taking on social tenants? Why can a private landlord not be covered by the same legislation. Have any landlords ever successfully won a civil case against a tenant for subletting and received any profits?