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.

What’s to think about?
 


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Comments

  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

MBM Homelets
MBM Homelets 23 Mar 2017

Although this is a very positive step, there is little or no guarantee of the standard of workmanship employed by the tenants. We have had experience of a professionally decorated property being ' painted'...

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ajay
ajay 21 Mar 2017

How is the "robust evidence" looking now?

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NathanG
NathanG 20 Mar 2017

I've been watching the series so far and am completely baffled by the cases that were presented. Though, I don't think that we can protect ourselves from every scam possible - it will just make the scammers...

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Landlady14
Landlady14 01 Mar 2017

You would think so Niraj Shah! My experience only proves that there are varying qualitiers of professional in all aspects of property letting. None of the ones I have dealt with, from letting agents to...

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Mark
Mark 01 Mar 2017

Thanks for this article. Hopefully one day everybody's lifestyle will be eco-sustainable.

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Ben Taylor
Ben Taylor 28 Feb 2017

I was convinced that London was the most expensive!

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Alan Read
Alan Read 28 Feb 2017

Australia are leading the way in this I think. The trouble with Britain is we don't get enough sun to make use of solar power.

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James Powell
James Powell 27 Feb 2017

This is a very good news.

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DanHumphreys
DanHumphreys 27 Feb 2017

It sounds like a good idea. Anything to help the younger generation get a foothold.

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Matt
Matt 20 Feb 2017

Is this fake news?

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Matthew Hollywood
Matthew Hollywood 07 Feb 2017

Matthew Hollywood - Director Mishon Mackay Land & New Homes - Brighton The shortage of New Homes is in part effected by the lack of land sales. Land sales are held back because there is a disparity between...

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CommercialTrust
CommercialTrust 30 Jan 2017

Hi Graham, Would be interesting to see the above figure calculated against an investment via a Lt Company /SPV structure and if the investor found themselves pushed in to the higher tax bracket. Mortgage...

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