Secret subletters: Half of renters subletting don’t tell their landlords

  • One-in-ten (13 per cent) renters admitted to renting out part or all of their rented property – rising to a quarter (25 per cent) among younger people
  • Three quarters (77 per cent) of those that sublet do not review their existing lease agreements to see if this is permitted
  • Half (50 per cent) of Londoners would consider or are already signed up to Airbnb or similar services to sublet their landlord’s property – 28 per cent higher than the national average of 22 per cent

New data from Direct Line business insurance1 reveals that a concerning number of tenants admit to having secretly sublet all or part of their landlords’ property. Nearly half (48 per cent) of renters who sublet their properties did not disclose this to their landlords and three-quarters (77 per cent) of respondents did not review their existing lease agreements to determine if subletting was permitted before doing so.  

The findings show that one-in-ten (13 per cent) renters admit to renting out part of the home they currently live in, ranging from a single room to the entire property. This rises to a quarter (25 per cent) amongst younger people, aged 18 to 34.

One-in-four landlords (23 per cent) eventually discovered their tenants’ subletting arrangements and tenants often face severe consequences including eviction, not having their lease renewed or receiving a negative reference for future rental applications.

Despite the risks one-in-five (22 per cent) respondents said they would still consider or are already signed up to Airbnb or similar services in the coming year to rent out part or all of their rented home. Nearly half (46 per cent) of young people said they would consider (40 per cent) or are already signed up (six per cent) to these types of services. Similarly, half (50 per cent) of Londoners would consider this (45 per cent) or are already signed up (5 per cent).

The buoyant rental market may be causing tenants to turn towards subletting their rented homes. According to recent research from property website Rightmove, average rents outside of London have soared to a record high of £1,190, with tenants paying over £2,500 in the capital.2

Areas where renters have sublet – hotspots in the UK:


Percentage of renters that have sublet

















Glasgow had the highest proportion of subletters, with a third (32 per cent) of tenants renting out part of their property, followed by Birmingham (23 per cent), Brighton (20 per cent) and London, Liverpool and Newcastle (17 per cent).

Subletting can lead to significant problems for landlords and tenants alike. Despite the opportunity to make extra money, subletting is not risk-free. It undermines homeowners’ control over their property and exposes them to potential issues arising from irresponsible subtenants.

Sarah Casey, Landlord Product Manager at Direct Line business insurance, remarked:

“With the market having seen an increase in average rents in the last year, it is hardly surprising that a larger number of renters are tempted to offset this expense by subletting their property.

“Landlords and tenants need to be aware that sub-letting has serious insurance implications. Subletting is not covered under most landlord insurance policies, so it’s really important that landlords make tenants fully aware of the restrictions on the lease and maintain that communication to help prevent any breaches. Tenants also need to be aware that their contents insurance is very unlikely to cover any theft or damage to personal property in the event of subletting.

“It’s important that landlords perform regular checks on their rental property to ensure that only those listed on the tenancy agreement live in at the address. Should they become aware of any changes, it’s important that they deal with the situation swiftly and notify their insurer to make sure they have the appropriate landlord insurance in place.

To help landlords deal with the challenges that come with being a landlord, Direct Line landlord policies come with a Legal Advice Helpline, provided by DAS Legal Expenses Insurance Limited, which provides landlords with unlimited access to a team of legal advisors, who are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, all year round in England and Wales. The helpline offers confidential legal advice and access to a library of legal templates, tools and regulatory guides to help landlords looking for legal advice and support.

For more information about Direct Line's landlord insurance, please visit:


(1)    Opinium survey of 2,000 UK adults, including 595 private renters, conducted 23rd May – 26th May 2023.


Direct Line Group

Unni Henry 

PR Manager

Email: [email protected]

About Direct Line business insurance

Launched in 2007 Direct Line business insurance now has over half a million customer policies, providing a flexible range of insurance products for the landlord, van and small business sectors.

Direct Line business insurance policies are underwritten by U K Insurance Limited, Registered office: The Wharf, Neville Street, Leeds LS1 4AZ. Registered in England and Wales No 1179980. U K Insurance Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.

Direct Line business insurance and U K Insurance limited are both part of Direct Line Insurance Group plc.

Customers can find out more about Direct Line business insurance products or get a quote by calling 0345 301 4827 or visiting