Selasa, 06 April 2010

Subletting: how the draft Bill would work

The REI has been banging on about the subletting provisions of the draft Residential Tenancies Bill again. They just don't get it. As a service to confused agents, here's how the subletting provisions would work.

For the purposes of the exercise, I'll need to employ a couple of educational aids. Meet Tina Tenant and Sally Subtenant:

(Tina Tenant (left) and Sally Subtenant (right))

Now meet Lenny Landlord:
(Lenny Landlord)

Let's begin.

Scenario 1
: Tina is thinking of subletting to Sally without Lenny's consent.
The draft Bill says: she better not. If she did, Tina would be in breach of her tenancy agreement. Lenny could, if he so chose, give a notice of termination on this ground. (This is the same as the current law.)

Scenario 2: Tina is going overseas for six months. She asks Lenny if she can sublet the entire premises to Sally while she is gone.
The draft Bill says: Lenny can refuse consent – no ifs or buts. He can refuse even if it is unreasonable to so. (This is the same as the current law.)

Scenario 3: Tina wants Sally to move in with her. She asks Lenny if she can sublet the spare room to Sally.
The draft Bill says: Lenny can refuse consent, but not unreasonably. (This is a change from the current law – and a pretty minor change at that.)

Let's look more closely at what the draft Bill says about 'reasonable refusal'.

Scenario 3a: Tina asks Lenny's consent to sublet the spare room to Sally. Lenny knows about Sally – and he would never give a tenancy to her if she applied for one.
The draft Bill says: Lenny can refuse consent. The draft Bill expressly provides that a landlord may refuse consent to a subtenant if the landlord would not have approved that subtenant for a tenancy.

Scenario 3b: Tina asks Lenny's consent to sublet the spare room to Sally. Lenny says 'no no, I don't care who it is, I'm not even going to consider it.'
The draft Bill says: Tina may not go ahead and sublet the spare room – that would be a breach. However, she may, if she so chooses, apply to the Tribunal for an order allowing her to sublet the spare room. The Tribunal will decide whether Lenny's refusal was unreasonable.

This is what the agents have been making so much noise about. Not that big a deal, is it?