If the leased asset is used differently by different users, the lessee cannot sub-lease the leased asset except with the express permission of the lessor. If the lessor permits the lessee for subleasing, he may sub-lease it. If the rent claimed from the sub-lessee is equal to or less than the rent payable to the owner / original lessor, all the recognized schools of Islamic jurisprudence are unanimous on the permissibility of the sub lease. However, the opinions are different in case the rent charged from the sub-lessee is higher than the rent payable to the owner. Imam al-Shafi’i and some other scholars allow it and hold that the sub lessor may enjoy the surplus received from the sub-lessee. This is the preferred view in the Hanbali school as well. On the other hand. Imam Abu Hanifah is of the view that the surplus received from the sub-lessee in this case is not permissible
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for the sub-lessor to keep and he will have to give that surplus in charity. However, if the sub-lessor has developed the leased property by adding something to it or has rented it in a currency different from the currency in which he himself pays rent to the owner/the original lessor, he can claim a higher rent from his sub-lessee and can enjoy the surplus.
Although the view of Imam Abu Hanifah is more precautious which should be acted upon to the best possible extent, in cases of need the view of Shafi’i and Hanbali schools may be followed because there is no express prohibition in the Holy Qur’an or in the Sunnah against the surplus claimed from the lessee. Ibn Qudamah has argued for the permissibility of surplus on forceful grounds.
Source: Republished with the kind permission of Sheikh Muhammad Taqi Usmani.
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