What Happens if Your Tenant Takes in a Lodger?

Finding out a tenant has sub-let a room in your buy to let to a lodger is worrying for some landlords. 

The new occupier is an unknown and comes with fears of breaking right to rent laws, the implications of losing control of the tenancy and if they are a suitable person to have in the home.

If the tenant has taken in a lodger without telling you, the options are limited:

  • Go with the flow and hope for the best
  • Start eviction proceedings

But if the tenant looks after the property and pays the rent on time, an eviction might not be in your best financial interests. 

As the tenant becomes the lodger's landlord, it's up to them to carry out the right to rent check, and the lodger cannot assume any rights of a tenant without consent while they live in the home with the tenant. 

Your tenancy agreement should have a clause prohibiting all sub-letting or assignment of the tenancy in whole or part without the landlord's prior written consent (as the Guild tenancy does). 

Often the landlord will be required to give consent if the request is reasonable, although it is primarily acceptable for a landlord to reject a proposal. 

With such a clause, the landlord can accept or reject the tenant's request for a lodger and attach conditions to the consent if necessary. 

We have a template available for consenting to a temporary guest, although it can be tweaked to allow a longer-term lodger if necessary. 

Of course, some landlords consider allowing tenants to take in lodgers ethical. It will enable people who cannot otherwise afford a home to find somewhere affordable to live in and makes better use of wasted bedroom space. 

As a general rule, our preferred way of dealing with a request for a longer-term lodger (as opposed to a temporary guest) is to check out the incoming occupier's references and create a new tenancy with the new tenant added. 

This makes the occupier a tenant instead of a lodger, but that way, their status is clear, and if one of the tenants leave, leaving the other in the property, possession is generally more straightforward.

View Related Handbook Page

Sub-letting/Assigning Tenancies

A landlord who has taken care to select a tenant by proper referencing and verification of suitability is unlikely to allow that chosen tenant to sublet, assign or transfer the tenancy to another without the landlord’s permission. In the past, tenancy agreements always tended to prohibit subletting or assignment.