Landlords haunted by ghost tenants

Published: 20/05/2014

Landlords are being warned to be extra vigilant after examples of severe sub letting have hit the headlines.

In one example by the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks (AIIC) a three-bedroom flat housed up to 30 tenants who slept in shifts while another, reported by West London’s Hounslow Council, believed up to 1000 immigrants were sharing a small number of buy to let properties in one street.

Sub letting is being increasing more common as rent rises and tenants struggle to pay their bills. However some tenants are known to rent multiple homes and then sublet them as their own business. Either way it can come at a significant cost to the landlord as the AIIC shares:

“In the property with 30 sharers, cigarette burns ruined carpets; 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.”

Rob Denman, Head of GW LET, comments from a legal perspective:

“Subletting is a difficult one as technically you don’t have a contract or tenancy agreement with the tenants sub letting the property; your agreement is with the original tenants who, nine times out of ten, have vanished.

Landlords need to ensure they have measures in place to minimise the risk of sub letting. This includes making regular visits to the property to check on its ongoing upkeep. Leaving tenants to their own device usually only ends one way! You must however strike a balance as too many visits could be classed as harassment. We recommend a check in period every two to three months.

“You also must make sure inspections are included in your original tenancy agreement and that you give the tenants adequate notice. Some may think this negates the point; that it gives the tenant sufficient time to ‘hide any evidence’ but the law states landlords cannot turn up unannounced and in no circumstance can a landlord enter the property without the consent of their tenant.”

Content correct at time of publication

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