Published on: 12 July 2023
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Can we accommodate someone when we are a tenant?
When renting a property, it's common to have questions about the possibility of hosting someone. Whether it's to help a relative in need or simply to provide temporary shelter for a friend, it's essential to understand the rules surrounding free accommodation. As a tenant, you have every right to host your loved ones for any duration you choose, and your landlord cannot legally forbid you from doing so. However, you are not allowed to sublet your home in your absence, let alone with the intention of making a profit, without your landlord's written consent. We will go over your rights and obligations with you.
What is free accommodation?
Free accommodation refers to the act of welcoming someone into your home without requesting financial compensation. This can be motivated by personal, family, or humanitarian reasons. Unlike subletting, which involves renting part or all of the property you are a tenant of to a third party for a rent, free accommodation is based on generosity, solidarity, and cost-free support.
In the case of free accommodation, it is not necessary to establish a specific lease agreement. However, it is recommended to draft a certificate of accommodation that specifies the details of the arrangement (name, expected duration, etc.). This certificate can serve as proof if needed, for example, to allow the person being hosted to justify their address or complete certain administrative procedures.
What is the difference between accommodation and subletting?
It is important to distinguish between free accommodation and subletting, as these two practices are subject to different legal frameworks.
Subletting involves renting all or part of a dwelling, such as a room, to a third party in exchange for rent payment. This practice can be allowed but only with the proper consent of the property owner and must be regulated by a subletting contract. As the main tenant, it is crucial to respect the terms of the lease agreement signed with the landlord. Unauthorized subletting constitutes a violation of the rental contract and can lead to legal consequences, including termination of the lease.
On the other hand, free accommodation involves housing a third party at no cost. This practice does not require authorization from your landlord nor a specific contract and falls under the conditions of a standard lease agreement. Your landlord cannot blame you for providing free accommodation to someone. However, it is advisable to provide a certificate of accommodation to the person being housed so they can justify their situation if needed.
Do you need the landlord's permission to accommodate someone when you are a tenant?
As a tenant, accommodating someone free of charge does not necessarily require formal authorization from the landlord, provided that the accommodation remains temporary and does not constitute a sublet charging rent. However, some situations may require the landlord's agreement, especially if the accommodation exceeds a reasonable duration or results in the permanent occupation of the dwelling by the hosted person. In this situation, it might be appropriate to co-sign a lease or transform the original contract into a shared rental agreement to be in compliance. To find out, you should consult the original rental contract to check for specific clauses related to accommodation. If the landlord refuses to grant permission, the tenant can try to negotiate or find a compromise. In any case, it is preferable to communicate with the landlord in writing, preferably by registered letter with acknowledgment of receipt, in order to keep a record of the request and the response.
It is also worth noting that the tenant remains responsible for the dwelling with respect to the landlord, even in the case of free accommodation. This means that the tenant is responsible for any damages caused by the person being accommodated. Therefore, it is recommended to take out home insurance that covers the risks associated with this situation.
It is therefore entirely possible to accommodate someone free of charge as a tenant, without specific authorization from the landlord, provided that the rules and limits defined by law and the rental agreement are respected. Free accommodation differs from subletting, which requires written authorization from the landlord. It is advisable to draft a certificate of accommodation to avoid misunderstandings and to check the clauses of the rental contract so that they are respected by all occupants of the dwelling. In case of doubt, it is recommended to consult a real estate law professional for personalized advice.