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

Kelvin Lloyd
Kelvin Lloyd 09 Oct 2017

IT is up, to the Planners. If they will only give permission for bungalows on certain (suitable) sites, they will be built.

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maggie swift
maggie swift 09 Oct 2017

It's just the beginning of the shocking rise.

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maggie swift
maggie swift 09 Oct 2017

I have recently read that the bungalows can provide social housing for elderly residents in London.

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zoe glover
zoe glover 05 Oct 2017

Update! Worst company I have ever dealt with. Undervalued a Cambridge property by over 100k, wont take on any evidence of valuation including a RICS valuation done 3 years ago for the very same value...

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Paul Edwards
Paul Edwards 27 Sep 2017

Its nonsense articles such as this that make it harder to get clients to realise just how difficult the market is out there. When you see Rightmove and there are more 'price reduced' then 'new' most days...

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Tom Allen
Tom Allen 20 Sep 2017

Absolutely agree with you!

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RyanGeo 18 Sep 2017

A sharp correction would be a less dramatic expression to use. That is already underway in certain sectors in Reading where I practice as Chartered Surveyor

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sean benton
sean benton 01 Sep 2017

Identity theft is a thread for any profession. So,people should stay alarmed. I once take help from a letting agent and came to know that letting agents are taking every precaution to prevent fraudulent...

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Mark N.
Mark N. 30 Aug 2017

We have seen a surge in instructions over August and that should continue into September too.

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Chris 30 Aug 2017

Unfortunately, all the legislation bears its force on Landlords and ignores, naively, the effect of Rogue Tenants on the ability of landlords to keep houses in repair and offer properties for rent at reasonable...

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Christian Donovan
Christian Donovan 18 Aug 2017

The write-down on house values, combined with the fall in the GBP saddled the fund?s property portfolio with a 1.4% loss in the second quarter. The shocking amount of $240 million.

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Samantha Goodman
Samantha Goodman 11 Aug 2017

Interesting point of view.

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