Paul Shamplina has produced a landlord’s guide to private tenant subletting scams, to help landlords avoid the growing problem, particularly in the high-rent market in London.
Rising rents and a severe shortage of affordable housing in London are leading to a busy subletting market which puts tenants that do this in serious breach of their letting agreement. The practice makes victims of both the private landlord whose property it is, and the unsuspecting landlords and subtenant.
Paul Shamplina, founder of Landlord Action, uses his extensive experience has produced the guide to help landlord avoid this troublesome development happening to them.
The video will help you find out what you need to know about the illegal subletting market, or click here to read more about it.
The most common cases of illegal subletting involve a person (often with fake ID) taking out a tenancy with a landlord or letting agent in the normal fashion, but the original tenant never actually moves in. That person then re-lets the property to another subtenant (with a margin of profit).
Even worse the “tenant” lets to multiple occupants, sometimes even carrying out alterations to the landlord’s property to make more rooms, to maximise the income of the unit.
According to Mr Shamplina, “Subletting scams and unauthorised sublets are rife in the UK’s private rented sector (PRS)”.
Mr Shamplina says these are the most common signs to look out for:
- If a single person is looking to rent a property much larger than they need based on who is on the tenancy agreement, alarm bells should ring straight away
- If a tenant is insistent on offering six months’ rent upfront
- If a landlord or agent receives a complaint from a neighbour, the council or the freeholder of the building with regards to the number of people coming and going from the property or excessive noise
- Tenants making excuses as to why a landlord can’t visit the property and making it difficult for them to do so
- Tenants will be hiding evidence of extra subtenants. During routine property inspections landlords should look for additional clothing and shoes, excessive rubbish for the number of registered tenants; additional bedding like sleeping bags and pillows; and suitcases, rucksacks and extra toothbrushes.
In some instances victim landlord could be put in breach of the housing laws because of multi-occupation regulations needed licensing and safety regulations precautions. Penalties for renting out an unlicensed HMO are up to £20,000. It is therefore very important that landlord (or their agents) do regular inspections of their properties and tenancies.
If a landlord is the victim of a subletting scam where numerous individuals are living in the property, making it an HMO (house of multiple occupation), the council should be informed.
How to avoid tenant subletting scams:
- Carry out thorough screening and referencing of every tenant – see: www.tenantverify.co.uk/tenant_screening.htm
- Get them to complete a comprehensive application form: http://www.tenantverify.co.uk/notices-forms.htm
- Do a credit check
- Check ID
- Check rent affordability – employer reference
- Get previous landlord references
- Interview your tenants with searching questions to make sure their stories “stack-up”
- Do a thorough inventory – use an independent inventory clerk
- Consider rent guarantee and legal protection insurance.
Most landlord that fall victim to these scams have failed to do these checks thoroughly, or their agents have let them down. If you use an agent, make sure they are competent, with a good reputation locally, and members of one of the main professional associations ensuring they are carrying the necessary insurance cover.
Full Subletting Guide here
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