Renting and leasing for subtenants

Most private tenants rent from a landlord who owns the property. However, some people rent from another a tenant rather than the owner. The owner is called the head landlord. If you are in this situation you are likely to be a subtenant. This section explains how and when sub tenancies happen. It also describes particular issues subtenants may face.

If you are a subtenant and you are unsure of your rights, get advice from a Shelter Cymru office, citizens advice bureau, the council or other local advice centre.

Are you a subtenant?

You are a subtenant if you rent from someone who is a tenant.

You may be a subtenant if:

  • you rent the whole property from another tenant
  • you rent part of a property from another tenant.

What is your tenancy status?

As with any other type of tenant your tenancy status depends on:

  • the type of accommodation you live in
  • whether you share with your immediate landlord
  • the date you moved in
  • what your tenancy agreement says.

It is possible for subtenants to have any type of tenancy if the conditions for that type of tenancy are met. But if you are a subtenant who lives in the same building as your immediate landlord you will have very few rights.

What are your rights?

If you are a subtenant you have the same rights as a normal tenant.

This includes rights to:

  • claim housing benefit to cover the rent
  • occupy the accommodation without interference from other people
  • challenge rent increases

However your situation may change if your landlord’s tenancy ends (see below). This is important if your immediate landlord has a fixed term tenancy.

What happens if my landlord’s tenancy ends?

You will have a valid tenancy for as long as your immediate landlord’s tenancy continues. But whether you have any rights after your immediate landlord’s tenancy ends depends on whether your sub tenancy is legal.

Whether your sub tenancy is legal or not depends on:

  • what type of tenancy your immediate landlord has
  • what it says in your immediate landlord’s tenancy agreement
  • whether the head landlord agreed to the sub tenancy.

If the head landlord accepts rent directly from you your tenancy is likely to become legal. This is true even if your sub tenancy was originally illegal (for instance because your immediate landlord’s tenancy agreement said subletting is not allowed). By accepting rent the head landlord admits that you have a right to occupy the accommodation. This is a complicated area of law, so get advice if you are in this situation.

If your landlord’s tenancy ends and your sub tenancy remains illegal, the head landlord is likely to be able to evict you fairly easily.

This page was last updated on: May 1, 2017

Shelter Cymru acknowledges the support of Shelter in allowing us to adapt their content. The information contained on this site is updated and maintained by Shelter Cymru and only gives general guidance on the law in Wales. It should not be regarded or relied upon as a complete or authoritative statement of the law.