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What if your tenant moves a partner in without permission? A guide to ‘permitted occupiers’ for landlords

2-minute read

Mollie Millman

1 December 2020

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Landlords are being reminded that there’s a solution if a tenant decides to breach their rental agreement by moving in a partner.

Following the most recent lockdown, some tenants may have considered (and brought forward) a decision to move their partner in, due to the pressures of not being able to see one another.

While this might seem like a natural solution, the reality is that it affects their contract with you as their landlord.

A ‘permitted occupier’ and the subletting clause

This is because there’s a standard clause in most tenancy agreements about subletting. Tenants can’t sublet all or part of the property without permission from the landlord.

Once the partner moves in however, they become what’s known as a ‘permitted occupier’.

This becomes an issue if the tenant moves out, as the permitted occupier can lawfully stay because the tenant has allowed them into the property.

Because there’s no contract between the landlord and the permitted occupier, the landlord would have to chase the tenant for the rent and follow separate legal procedures to evict the permitted occupier.

David Cox, of Rightmove, said: “It is why having an up-to-date tenancy agreement is so important. A landlord has rented the property and so the tenant could move someone in if there are no terms prohibiting this in the tenancy agreement.”

What can landlords do in this situation?

If there are terms prohibiting this, there’s a solution – that’s to make an amendment to the tenancy agreement allowing the permitted occupier.

In this way, should the tenant leave the property and stop paying the rent, the permitted occupier becomes the new tenant and is liable to pay all of the rent.

Chris Norris, policy director of the National Residential Landlords Association, said: “Most professionally drafted tenancy agreements include clauses that allow new permitted occupiers only with the consent of the landlord.

“Such clauses are generally in place to protect the landlord from encountering issues with their insurance, or breaching the terms of their lease if their property is a leasehold, or the terms of their licence if the property is a House of Multiple Occupation.

“Your agreement is with the original tenant and they are the one expected to follow the terms set out in it.”

He added: “If your tenant does ask for permission for their new partner to move in, you should agree to this if it is reasonable to do so.”

Were you aware of the rules around permitted occupiers? Let us know in the comments below.

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