Rising rents and a shortage of affordable property have created an army of ghost residents who live in sub-let rooms in rented homes and are unknown to the agent or the landlord, according to the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks (AIIC).
Recent research* shows that an estimated 3.3 million people are living as unofficial tenants – that is as many as 1 in every 10 rental homes. Almost half of residential lettings agencies have found multiple occupants living in a home unofficially after checking the properties under their management. (Direct Line, 2013).
Three quarters of these resident ghosts have been sub-letting for more than six months. Pat Barber, Chair of the AIIC believes this is a serious and growing problem: “The sheer cost of renting in some parts of the UK has driven some tenants to kip on a mates’ spare room, or in more sinister circumstances, multiple sub-tenants inhabit a property over time.
“We recently came across a three-bedroomed flat which we visited mid-tenancy as the landlord was concerned about the current tenants. It quickly became apparent that up to 30 people were living in the flat – co-workers sleeping in shifts, when only one couple were on the tenancy.
“With so many people living in a confined space, wear and tear in the property and damage was magnified. In this particular property, there were cigarette burns all over the carpet; damaged doors and skirting ;missing furniture, broken kitchen doors; curtain poles damaged due to wet clothes being hung on them; and the hob and oven were damaged. In total, the damage was estimated to be more than £10,000 which had to funded by the landlord.
“This problem is growing. In July of 2013, it was revealed that 1,000 immigrants could be secretly living in a Hounslow street. 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. At the end of the tenancy, landlords always change the locks if the property has been sub-let.
“The most common damage we see in rental properties includes iron burns on carpets; cigarette burns; soiled marks on baths and UPVC window sills and frames; heat damage to polished wooden furniture; and stiletto heel imprints on wooden floors and vinyl. When there is multiple occupancy in a property, wear and tear in dramatically accelerated – a big problem for landlords and agents.”
· The Association of Independent Inventory Clerks was established in 1996
· The aim of the AIIC is to ensure that every landlord, tenant and agent in the UK is aware of the importance of the inventory process and the benefits of employing an independent, professional independent inventory clerk.
· AIIC independent inventory clerks provide letting agents and landlords with comprehensive inventory documentation, including inventory compilation, check-in procedure, check-out procedure, Tenancy Deposit Schemes and assessment in fair wear and tear.
· The AIIC offers membership to current independent inventory clerks and a search facility for agents and landlords to search for local professional independent inventory clerks.
· The AIIC also offers industry-leading training courses, open to anyone in the property letting industry, ensuring that proper information and training is available for all members to provide the best possible service.
· The AIIC members have all agreed to conduct their business in a professional manner in accordance with the Guidelines to Professional Practice and will abide by the AIIC’s Code of Practice. AIIC members also have Professional Indemnity insurance and Public Liability insurance.
· AIIC independent inventory clerks are experts in their field, helping to save landlords, letting agents and tenant’s time, money and hassle by ensuring that government regulations are being adhered to.