Accidental landlords who rent out their home after moving on are the unwitting target of mortgage lenders and the tax man.
Many accidental landlords are unaware that they must seek consent from their mortgage lenders to sublet their homes when moving out.
Often, lenders charge them a fee to change their mortgage terms or increase the interest on their mortgage in line with buy to let loan rates.
Lenders have realised they are missing out additional income and are allegedly scouring through voters lists and online letting listings to catch offenders who are flouting the rules.
The warning comes from mortgage brokers who have been approached for information about their clients who may be accidental landlords.
Not only does letting out a home without lender consent break the conditions of a loan, accidental landlords could find their properties are uninsured as standard home insurance policies not valid if a home is let.
The attack is two-pronged, as HM Revenue & Customs has had a property task force rooting out landlords who fail to declare rental income on their tax returns.
HMRC employs many of the same procedures as the lenders to identify accidental landlords – but also ties up local authority housing benefit records with Land Registry data.
A reduced penalty amnesty is currently underway for landlords who declare past rental profits.
Ray Boulger, of mortgage broker John Charcol, said: “We know there are many borrowers who have let their property but failed to inform their lender. Before the financial crisis lenders didn’t often check whether borrowers were still living in their property, but they are increasingly doing things like checking the electoral register to see who lives at an address and looking on letting websites such as Rightmove to see if a property is listed. These borrowers now run a much greater risk of being caught.”