It is important to know at the outset of a tenancy what subletting and assignment involve, and what the rights and responsibilities of tenants and landlords are in this area.
What is subletting?
Subletting occurs when a tenant permits another party to lease the rental property that the tenant has leased from the landlord. The tenant then assumes the position of landlord (known as the head tenant) in relation to his or her subtenant. Subletting usually occurs because the tenant has signed a fixed-term lease and wants, for whatever reason, to get out of the lease before it expires. Subletting can only take place with the consent of the landlord.
Where a landlord refuses the tenant the option of subletting, the tenant can serve a notice of termination to end the tenancy if they so wish. Subletting is not available in Approved Housing Body tenancies.
What is assignment?
Assignment is where a tenant transfers his or her entire interest in a tenancy to a third party. The original tenant then ceases to have any interest or involvement in the tenancy and the assignee becomes the tenant who now deals directly with the Landlord.
If a tenant assigns a Part 4 tenancy to a person other than a sub-tenant, the protection provided by a Part 4 tenancy ceases. The new assignee will require 6 months of continuous occupation in the dwelling before qualifying for Part 4 tenancy rights.
If a tenant assigns a dwelling to an existing sub-tenant, the Part 4 tenancy will continue to exist in favour of the new assignee for the remaining period of the original Part 4 tenancy and the assignee becomes the tenant of the Landlord.
Assignment can only take place with the consent of the landlord. Where a landlord refuses an assignment of a fixed term tenancy, a tenant can serve a notice of termination on the landlord.
Tenants of Approved Housing Bodies are not permitted to assign or sublet the tenancy.