Subletting trends as living costs rise in SA
Consult a lawyer to ensure you cover loopholes
With consumers facing a cash crunch in an era of increasing cost of living, many tenants unable to afford their rentals are finding ways to defray expenses by letting rooms in their rented homes to subtenants.
This is called subletting, a process whereby an existing tenant lets all or part of their home to someone else, known as a subtenant.
Experts say subletting – with or without the landlord’s permission – is a growing trend as tenants continue to feel financial pressure due to the increase in the cost of living.
Shafeeka Anthony, who works for personal finance website Justmoney.co.za, says property subletting is becoming popular in South Africa, largely because of the increase in interest rates, amongst other rising living costs.
“Subletting may seem like a great option if you are a tenant, but it’s essential to check the terms of your lease before going ahead,” Anthony says.
“You may not sublet without your landlord’s consent – and even if granted, it may be against body corporate rules.
“Subletting illegally can cause major issues and has ramifications.”
She lists the advantages and disadvantages of subletting.
• Advantages of subletting as the main tenant:
Subletting part of a unit or house will bring in more income and allow you to remain in a place you like but can no longer afford.
Another advantage is that if the main tenant wants to travel for an extended period or find a place that better suits your needs, subletting frees you up.
Another advantage is subletting allows you to change location without incurring the penalties that often go with breaking a lease. Having someone pay rent for the duration of your lease will help you keep your rental record intact and maintain your credit score.
• Disadvantage of subletting a property:
The subtenant may not stick to the sublease conditions. They could skip payments, leaving you responsible for paying the full rent to your landlord.
Another red flag is that if your subtenant damages the property, the landlord may hold you accountable, affecting your relationship with them and possibly making it difficult to rent in future.
It can also be difficult to evict your subtenant who doesn’t pay and refuses to move out. This might lead to a lengthy process that may require a court order.
“Subletting is one way to optimise a property rental.
“There are, however, many factors to consider and this is not a decision to take lightly.
“Do your homework, and for extra peace of mind, consult a lawyer to ensure that you cover all the necessary items in your sublease agreement,” Anthony says.
Check the terms of your lease before you decide to sublet