If a tenant sublets a property or brings in new occupiers, this can cause a number of possible problems for landlords. For this reason, the OpenRent tenancy agreement includes terms such as requiring tenants to take responsibility for the actions of their visitors, and not to sublet the premises or take in additional occupiers without the landlord's consent.
That said, tenants have standard rights to 'quiet enjoyment' of the property which mean that it is unlikely to be reasonable for a landlord to prevent the tenant from having guests over. Although in some cases these guests (such as romantic partners) may end up staying for extended periods, unfortunately it is not straightforward to determine when a guest has gone beyond normal guest or visitor status; this is inherently open to grey areas and would need to be assessed on a case-by-case basis.
If the regular presence of a visitor at the property caused a serious problem for the landlord for any reason, they would need to demonstrate that whatever the tenant had done or allowed had breached the terms of the tenancy agreement, for which the landlord's possible remedies could include pursuing the tenant for damages and/or evicting them from the premises. In each case, it would ultimately be at the discretion of the courts or other authority to determine whether the tenant had indeed breached the tenancy agreement, and if so, whether the landlord's proposed remedy was appropriate.
Given the inherent difficulties in pursuing legal action of this sort (and especially in enforcing an eviction on grounds such as these), it is likely to be far better to try to take preventative action. Landlords may wish to consider the following:
- Ensure they have a well-written tenancy agreement and have met all their legal obligations; the OpenRent Rent Now service is the recommended route for doing this.
- Where there are specific requirements that the tenant needs to comply with, such as those relating to the landlord's mortgage, insurance or head lease, make sure the tenant is made aware of these (for example, by adding a custom clause in the contract).
- Carry out periodic inspections of the property during the tenancy, and otherwise keep in contact with the tenant to ensure lines of communication are open and possible issues are flagged early.
- If it appears that the tenant may be breaching the tenancy agreement, speak to them to make sure they understand the potential problems with what they are doing and reach an appropriate resolution. It is likely to be helpful to keep a written record of these conversations.
- If the tenant's actions persist and risk causing serious problems, consider taking independent legal advice on your options.
In some cases it will be possible to add a new tenant to the tenancy agreement if all parties agree.