Landlords are being urged to carry out regular checks of their properties as an army of ghost tenants are sub-letting rooms as tenants struggle to pay rising rents.
More than 3 million of these ghost tenants are sharing buy to let homes unbeknown to their landlords, according to recent research by landlord insurers Direct Line.
And the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks (AIIC) is warning landlords that some tenants are renting multiple homes and then sub-letting as a business.
The AIIC says a three-bedroomed flat checked mid-tenancy had up to 30 people sleeping in shifts while only one couple were registered on the on the tenancy agreement.
Another report, from West London’s Hounslow Council reckoned up to 1,000 immigrants were sharing buy to let homes on just one street.
Pat Barber, who chairs the AIIC believes this is a serious problem landlords should be on the watch to stop.
“The high cost of renting in some parts of the UK has driven some tenants to sleep in a mates’ spare room, or in more sinister circumstances, multiple sub-tenants inhabit a property over time,” she said.
“With so many people living in a confined space, wear and tear in the property and damage was magnified.”
The AIIC says 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.
“It is vital that landlords and agents visit their properties regularly to check that the tenants who are listed on the tenancy agreement are the only residents,” said Barber. “At the end of the tenancy, landlords always change the locks if the property has been sub-let.”
The most common damage, says the AIIC, includes iron burns on carpets; cigarette burns; marks on baths and plastic window sills and frames; heat damage to polished wooden furniture; and stiletto heel imprints on wooden floors and vinyl.