Landlords urged to check whether ‘ghost tenants’ are sub-letting

Landlords urged to check whether ‘ghost tenants’ are sub-letting

As rents continue to rise and tenants struggle to pay, a new phenomenon is becoming a serious issue: that of ‘ghost tenants’ sub-letting rooms by sharing buy-to-let homes without their landlords’ knowledge.

Landlord insurers Direct Line recently identified the problem, stating that more than 3 million of these ghost tenants are renting multiple homes and then sub-letting them as a business to earn extra money.

The Association of Independent Inventory Clerks (AIIC) also gave an example of a three-bedroom flat checked mid-tenancy, which was found to have up to 30 people sleeping in shifts, while only one couple were registered on the tenancy agreement.

West London’s Hounslow Council released a report recently, stating that up to 1,000 immigrants were sharing buy-to-let homes on one street in their area alone.

This is now becoming a serious problem and landlords need to be on the look-out for it. It is obvious that the high cost of renting in some parts of the UK (particularly in London) has driven some tenants to sleep in their friends’ spare room, or in more worrying circumstances, multiple sub-tenants are inhabiting a property over a period of time. With so many people living in a confined space, wear and tear and damage in the property will be greatly increased.

The AIIC said that in the property with 30 sharers, a huge amount of damage was sustained:

carpets were ruined, doors were damaged, furniture was missing and curtain poles were used to dry wet clothes. The total damage was estimated at more than £10,000 which the landlord had to pay for.

The most common damage includes iron and cigarette burns on carpets, marks on baths and plastic window sills and frames, heat damage to polished wooden furniture and stiletto heel imprints on wooden floors and vinyl. The best way for landlords to stamp out multiple sub-tenants is to ensure that they visit their properties regularly to check that the tenants who are listed on the tenancy agreement are the only residents. At the end of the tenancy, landlords always change the locks if the property has been sub-let.

Another issue arising from the rising cost of renting, particularly in London, is that tenants are starting to be priced out of the housing market. In fact, at Guardians of London, we have recently seen a five-fold increase in applications for people to become property guardians, as people search for ways to secure affordable housing. It is an excellent alternative for those who don’t mind living in unusual buildings but want to save money on rent. They can often find housing in areas that they couldn’t previous afford, if they don’t mind living in an empty school, office building, church, community centre or even doctor’s surgery.

The benefits are huge, the most obvious being that they can be paying from £60 per week, inclusive of utility bills. They can pretty much adapt their environment to create their own living space and, for key workers, they are often able to find accommodation near to where they work. For the landlord, the benefits are obvious: instead of spending money to secure their empty property every month either by hiring in security firms or boarding up their building, they can actually earn revenue from the monthly licence fee paid by the guardians. The building is secure and damage/occupation by squatters will be prevented.

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  1. winston hayleswinston hayles07 May 2014 00:00:00

    A number of my clients have expressed the featured problems. I assist by checking their properties and take residence on their behalf. I advise, where possible, to apply through the courts for Claim for Possession upon the Occupants and I personally serve the legal paperwork by Fixing & Posting, then provide the client with a sworn Affidavit of Service. As trespassers no longer have the safety net of the law they and anyone else in the building may easily and legally be removed. I have a security services background and spent over 24 years as a private investigator and the person who serves legal notices upon squatters/trespassers. If anyone requires assistance or how they may combat Persons Unknown in their properties, just contact me. WINSTON HAYLES - private investigator

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Latest Comments

SecomTech 22 Jun 2017

AT Last...This was discussed years ago and there was a move towards landlords registering their bad tenants on a database..(can't remember where) It seems a logical step though our leaders will probably...

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Bertrand 02 Jun 2017

How about the Welsh Govt introducing a scheme to protect landlords against "rogue" tenants who are then taken to court for criminal damage to the properties they trash. Pretty unlikely I suspect and politically...

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AmberMorris 25 May 2017

"Please don't pick a novelty tune-playing doorbell. They're not 'fun'. They're stupid." Laughed a lot to this. It's actually true, though.

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Oliver Conway
Oliver Conway 18 May 2017

Making a neat inventory is a good idea, but if the seller is not willing to provide it, can the buyer demand it?

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Bertrand 17 May 2017

First step to nationalisation of the private rented sector IMHO. Nanny state poking their noses into things yet again. I object, as a decent landlord, sometimes having to deal with some pretty awful tenants,...

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Izzy 16 May 2017

This is such a great a post. I love the detail you've gone into. It's a very useful article for helping those who are looking at deciding which sector they would like to go into! When I first started investing...

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paul burnham
paul burnham 30 Apr 2017

Jeremy Corbyn's pledge that a Labour government would build 500,000 new council houses must electrify the general election campaign. Reliance on markets and the profit motive has brought huge housing-related...

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CommercialTrust 28 Apr 2017

Sadiq Khan?s announcement of an online database of landlords and letting agents who have been convicted of housing offences, appears on face value to be a variation of the already implemented Database

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warren 26 Apr 2017

You're very welcome Mary! Glad you enjoyed them :)

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Mary Ward
Mary Ward 26 Apr 2017

Thank you for the wonderful ideas. First impressions can make or break a deal. It's sadly that many homeowners drop the kerb to create an off-street parking space.

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Tony Gimple
Tony Gimple 14 Apr 2017

I'm not at all surprised that so many landlords are still confused about what the tax changes really mean and how it will affect them. In particular, the blind rush to incorporation is leaving landlords...

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MH 13 Apr 2017

You are right that the bank holidays are going to be spoiled in looking for the properties. But people who want to sell their property and looking for the better relocation, they can get benefits of this...

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