If you are a landlord, you may come across disputes between your tenants and their subtenants. These disputes, which can range from late rent payments to accusations of misconduct, can be tricky to resolve. Although it can be difficult, resolving a subtenant dispute in a timely manner and in a way that satisfies both parties is essential in maintaining a good tenant relationship. By understanding best practices for dealing with subtenant disputes, you can stay proactive and ensure that your tenants and their subtenants are happy.

What is a Subtenant?

A subtenant is a tenant who is given the right to use a property owned by another tenant, usually for a short period of time and for a fee. Typical subtenant relationships include rent-to-own agreements and short-term rental contracts. Subtenants are responsible for any damage they cause to the property, as well as any unpaid rent. It is important to understand the rights and responsibilities of the subtenant and the tenant in order to ensure that everyone is in compliance with the rules and regulations of the agreement.

Common Types of Subtenant Disputes

Subtenant disputes can take many forms, but there are some common issues that tend to arise. These include:

    • Non-payment of Rent: This is one of the most common subtenant disputes. If the subtenant has not paid their rent, it is the responsibility of the tenant to take appropriate action.
    • Damage to Property: If the subtenant has caused damage to the property, the tenant must pursue them for reimbursement.
    • Disputes Between Subtenants: If two subtenants are arguing, it is the landlord’s job to intervene and resolve the issue.
    • Unsatisfied Tenants: If the tenant is unhappy with the subtenant’s behavior, they are responsible for addressing the issue.

How to Handle Subtenant Disputes

When dealing with subtenant disputes, it is important to remain calm and professional. Stay in communication with the tenant and the subtenant to ensure that everyone is informed and on the same page. Additionally, document all communications and be sure to indicate a reasonable timeline for dispute resolution.

Steps to Take When Dealing With Subtenant Disputes

When dealing with subtenant disputes, the following steps should be taken:

    1. Understand the terms of the agreement. If you are a landlord, make sure you are familiar with the specific rights and duties of both the tenant and subtenant as outlined in the agreement.
    2. Stay in contact with the tenant and subtenant. Try to foster an atmosphere in which the tenant and subtenant can discuss the issue in a professional manner.
    3. Document all communication. Be sure to document all communications with the parties involved, as this can be very helpful in the event of a dispute.
    4. Set a reasonable timeline. Establish a timeline for dispute resolution that is acceptable to both the tenant and subtenant.
    5. Try to resolve the dispute. If possible, try to resolve the dispute amicably. If this is not possible, follow the legal protocol for resolving disputes.

Preventing Future Disagreements

When dealing with subtenant disputes, it is important to remember that prevention is key. Once the dispute has been resolved, take steps to prevent future disagreements. Make sure all agreements are in writing and clearly explain the rights and responsibilities of both parties. Additionally, stay in contact with the tenant and subtenant to ensure that all questions and concerns are addressed in a timely and professional manner.


Dealing with subtenant disputes can be tricky, but it is important to stay proactive in order to maintain a good tenant relationship. By understanding best practices for dealing with subtenant disputes and taking steps to prevent future misunderstandings, landlords can ensure that their tenants and subtenants remain happy.

What rights does a subtenant have in a dispute?

A subtenant has the right to have their tenancy agreement enforced. This means that they are entitled to the terms that were outlined in their agreement, such as rent amount, length of tenancy, and utilities/amenities included. They also have the right to a healthy and safe living environment. If a subtenant believes that a landlord or primary tenant has violated one of the terms of their agreement, they have the right to take legal action. This may include filing a lawsuit or bringing the issue to a small claims court. The subtenant also has the right to enforce their legal rights and to seek damages for any losses suffered.

What are the rights of a subtenant in a tenancy agreement?

1. The right to occupy the premises for the duration of the agreement.

2. The right to reasonable peace, comfort and privacy.

3. The right to receive a copy of the tenancy agreement outlining the terms of the tenancy.

4. The right to be free from the threat of unreasonable eviction, injury or damage to property.

5. The right to have any damage done to the premises repaired or compensated for.

6. The right to be informed of any changes to the tenancy agreement.

7. The right to a safe and secure living environment.

8. The right to seek legal advice before entering into a tenancy agreement.

What happens if the tenant does not pay their rent?

If the tenant does not pay their rent, the landlord can pursue different options depending on the laws of the state or jurisdiction they are in. Generally, the landlord will start by sending the tenant a notice to pay rent or quit, which is a legal document that provides the tenant with an opportunity to either pay the rent or move out within a certain period of time. If the tenant does not comply, the landlord can then proceed to file an eviction lawsuit. Ultimately, if the tenant still does not pay, the landlord will be able to remove the tenant from the property via a court-ordered eviction.

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