Subletting — can your tenant sublet your property?

Can your tenant assign/sublet your property? I wish this issue didn’t come up as often as it does, but if you’re a landlord, it’ll happen.

There’s a big difference between assigning and subletting. Assigning means your tenant transfers their lease to another tenant. For example, “Bob” decides to leave the rental property and “assigns” his lease to “Mary,” who takes on bob’s obligations under the lease and is responsible for paying rent. Subletting means the tenant leases out part or all of their rental to a third party. For example, “Jennifer” signs a lease for a three-bedroom condo and rents out the two additional bedrooms to friends who pay her directly. Jennifer still lives in the property and is responsible for paying the lease.

Years ago, a fellow told me during the showing that he would rent my property and then proceeded to share his plan for subletting any additional rooms he and his wife weren’t using for x amount of dollars/person. He didn’t ask my permission; he told me his strategy. I didn’t give him an application, and he missed the chance to turn my property into a boarding house.

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Recently, I rented a house to two friends. A month later, neighbors informed me an additional person was living in the house. When I asked the original tenant about the situation, he told me his friend up and moved out one day and, in a panic, had asked a work colleague to move in. Over the course of eight months, the original tenant moved in with his girlfriend (to a different location), and the work colleague moved in with their partner and two cats. The actual tenant sublet my house without my knowledge or consent. I sent him a copy of the lease clause explaining the rules he agreed to and told him that I need to know and approve who is living in my property. He still seemed a little miffed.

It’s unfortunately been my experience that many tenants feel entitled to move in additional people or pets regardless of the lease and without asking for permission.

According to the RTA, tenants have the right to assign or sublease, but they must notify you in writing (RTA 22 (1)). Once you have received their notice in writing, you have 14 days to respond.

If you don’t respond within 14 days (RTA 22 (4)), the RTA considers your lack of response a consent, and the tenant can sublet your property. If you’re on vacation and don’t check your emails, texts, or messages — when 14 days comes and goes, you’ve got yourself another tenant.

According to the RTA, “a landlord may not refuse permission without reasonable grounds and must give the tenant their reasons in writing within 14 days after receiving the request.” Any potential subletters should complete the same application/screening process and meet the identical criteria you used to approve your tenant. If they pass, they can move in; if they don’t pass, you don’t have to approve them, but you do have to tell them why.

When all is said and done, although landlords are required to follow the RTA rules for subletting, it’s your property, and you have the right to set the criteria for who can and can’t live in your rental investment.

Here’s a good American version of subletting by Michael Lisovetsky https://medium.com/@liso/keep-it-legal-a-guide-to-subletting-without-breaking-the-law-in-new-york-city-81562ef01848

Do you have subletting experiences like to share with me? I’d love to hear about them nelda@neldaschulte.com

Do you like these tips? There are plenty more you can take advantage of plus there are tools and educational resources for DIY landlords; sign up for a membership for Landlord Fundamentals 101. To turbocharge your learning and landlording efficiency, combine Landlord Fundamentals 101 with one-on-one coaching.

Are you struggling with the right documentation? 10 Essential Editing Landlord Forms are designed to save you time and worry wondering if you’ve covered all the right steps.

Would you like to receive articles, tips, and events? My news blast will help! sign up on www.neldaschulte.com/membership

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Nelda Schulte is a freelance writer based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada who specializes in real estate.

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Nelda Schulte

Nelda Schulte

Nelda Schulte is a freelance writer based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada who specializes in real estate.

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