When a property is sub-let, someone rents part or all of the property from another person who rented it directly from the rental provider (previously called a landlord).
- A sub-renter’s name is not on the rental agreement (lease).
- The person whose name is on the rental agreement is known as the head renter.
- There might be more than one head renter.
Sub-letting is different to co-renting, where each renter is on the rental agreement.
Responsibilities of the head renter
The head renter takes on all the responsibilities of a rental provider, and has to apply the conditions in the rental agreement they have with the rental providers to the people they’re sub-letting to.
This means the head renter is responsible for meeting the required mandatory disclosure requirements, ensuring that the property meets the rental minimum standards and dealing with urgent repairs. Although the head renter will be able to ask their rental provider for the required information, or to make repairs, the head renter cannot just wait for their rental provider to make repairs.
For example, minimum standards apply to any sub-letting agreements signed after 29 March 2021. This applies even where the original lease agreement was signed by the head renter before that date. If the property requires work to meet the minimum standards, the head renter should discuss the associated costs with the rental provider.
Permission to sub-let
The person whose name is on the agreement must ask for written permission from the rental provider to sub-let.
Rental providers must give permission to sub-let, unless there is a good reason not to. They must not refuse permission because of someone’s ethnicity, gender identity, disability, or because they have any of the personal protected attributes outlined in the Equal Opportunity Act 2010.
They cannot charge a fee for giving permission. If a renter thinks their request to sub-let is refused without a good reason, they can apply to VCAT to decide whether they should be allowed to sub-let.
Rental providers can refuse permission for people in public housing to sub-let because it would be unfair to other people who are waiting for public housing.
If someone sub-lets without permission, the rental provider can end the rental agreement. They can ask any of the people living at the property to leave within 14 days.
For example, if a rental provider realises their property is being sub-let without their permission, they could give the sub-renter notice to vacate. If the sub-renter does not move out, the rental provider could also give the head renter notice to vacate.
If a head renter and a sub-renter have a dispute with each other, either one can ask us for advice. If they still can’t agree, either one can apply to VCAT.
Bonds for sub-lets
Head renters can ask the sub-renter to pay a bond. The head renter must lodge the bond with the Residential Tenancies Bond Authority (RTBA) within 10 business days. You can lodge a bond online by registering as a rental provider.
Forms you might need
To lodge the bond as a head renter:
Sections of the Act
If you want to know what the law says about sub-letting, you can read these sections of the Residential Tenancies Act 1997:
- Section 81 – Assignment and sub-letting by a renter