Can My Tenant Move Someone In? (Free Legal Advice)

Unauthorised tenant occupant

Been there, done it!

And in all honesty, it didn’t work out badly (which is often the case).

Most common scenario is when a tenant moves their partner in because they want to take their relationship to the next level (good for them!). Of course, it’s not always about blossoming romance, it’s equally as common for tenant’s to move in with a platonic friend, usually to help out with the bills.

Sometimes the landlord is notified, often it’s done without permission.

Either way, I’m going to go over my experience and also address the following commonly asked questions:

  • What are your legal rights?
  • Should you do anything?
  • What to do if you’re unhappy with the situation (and how to access free legal advice)?

Let’s do this!

My experience (with my tenant moving someone else in)

Fair warning, my experience isn’t tragic. In fact, given the circumstances, it has a fairy-tale ending, so it may not provide comfort to landlords going through a worse case scenario ordeal. But I’m still going to share my story to illustrate how I personally handled the matter to mitigate any potential issues.

So, a couple of years ago my tenant asked for my permission to authorise her friend to move in as a permanent occupant (completely platonic). Long story short, my tenant had a spare room, her friend needed a place to stay, and naturally both would benefit from splitting the bills.

I personally didn’t have any concerns about it, and issued my approval after asking a few basic questions in regards to her friend’s identity. It’s important to note:

  • This is a long-term tenant (6 years at this point) that has never caused any issues in the past
  • I have a great relationship with my tenant
  • My tenant is house proud and takes immaculate care of the property
  • Two incomes is better than one

Perhaps these are points you may want to take into consideration when making your own assessment of the situation.

Two years later, I’ve had no issues at all. Everything worked out fine.

What to do if you’re happy to permit a new occupant to move in

I’m going to tell you what I did, based on the fact I didn’t have an issue with my tenant moving someone else in:

  • Issued a new tenancy agreement: since the existing agreement was with the original tenant, I provided a new “joint tenancy”, which made both occupants equally responsible. Basically, I just added both their names to a new tenancy agreement. You can access a copy of the tenancy agreements I used from here.
  • Notified my building insurance provider: I’ve heard many horror stories of landlord insurance policies becoming void due to “unauthorised” occupancy, and therefore any future claims could be refused.

    I’m really not sure if policies actually become void under these circumstances, but it’s not worth taking the risk, so I notified my insurance provider of the change in circumstances, and then got them to issue me with a written document confirming it.

    If you have Rent Guarantee Insurance (RGI) in place, you may also want to notify your provider of the change in circumstances.

I didn’t do the following, but you may want to depending on your circumstances:

  • Reference the prospective new occupant: before agreeing, you may want to thoroughly reference the prospective new tenant, which can include a meet and greet, checking their credit history and getting references from previous landlords. Here’s a full guide on referencing tenants.

What to do if your tenant didn’t ask for your permission to move someone in

This can be tricky.

Not quite the same, but I once had a tenant home an authorised pet dog. That was tricky. Anyways, that’s another story for another time. I digress.

So, presumably, one way or another you have been notified that your tenant has moved someone else in, so this creates two primary issues:

  • Determining whether the mystery person is a regular visitor or indeed a permanent occupant (often it’s difficult to prove)
  • How to approach your tenant about the matter

Honestly, you could just do nothing and plead ignorance, especially if your tenant has a good track record. That’s *probably* not a terrible option.

Or, if you run a tight ship and wish to continue doing so, you could bring it up with your tenant, and explain that you don’t mind, but you do want to update the tenancy agreements to protect yourself.

Many landlords also arrange a routine inspection, as it often unearths signs of new life. It’s extremely difficult to hide all traces of an unauthorised occupant.

What to do if you’re unhappy with the situation (your legal rights)

Okay, so if for whatever reason you’re less than amused by your tenant moving in an unauthorised occupant into the property, and you’re adamant on putting an end to it (I’m not here to judge, only to provide you with potential solutions), fortunately, you do have a few options.

The reality is, your tenant has likely breached the terms of the tenancy. Generally speaking, most professionally drafted tenancy agreements include clauses that prohibit subletting and unauthorised occupants.

For example, the tenancy agreement I use has the following clause:

8.1 The Tenant shall not assign, sublet, part with or share possession or occupation of the Property or any part of the Property, other than with the Authorised Occupiers (if any).

So you should check your tenancy agreement to determine if you have prohibitive clauses. If not, you probably don’t want to be using that tenancy agreement template going forward.

On the basis that your tenant is in breach of contract, you can inform them with a written letter, citing the relative clause(s) in the contract which has been breached, and then kindly ask the unauthorised occupant to vacate.

Yes, in theory it sounds simple enough, but in practice it’s likely to disrupt your relationship with your original tenant. Obviously I couldn’t possibly comment on that, because every situation is different, and some landlords really don’t have an issue with being disliked as long as the rules are followed. Side note: I’m not one of those landlords; I enjoy peace and harmony.

If your tenant refuses to fall in line – or even if s/he doesn’t – they are still in breach of contract. So you’re likely to have valid grounds to issue your tenant with a Section 8 eviction notice. If successful, your tenant will have to vacate, terminating the tenancy.

Alternatively, if you’re happy to wait until the end of the fixed term, or if have a periodic tenancy, you may want to issue a Section 21 repossession notice. Generally speaking, it’s a cleaner approach, with significantly less complications, but ultimately achieves the same result as an eviction notice.

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Right, I’m done.

Hope that’s been useful, and best of luck (with whatever your situation is).

If you have any questions, hit up the comments section below…

Landlord out xoxo

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