Millions of ghosts in UK's rented properties
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Communities, Regulation
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Up to 3.3 million 'ghost' tenants are living unofficially in rented properties across the UK, new research has revealed.
According to Direct Line for Business' findings, 49% of lettings agencies have found multiple occupants living in a home unofficially, with three quarters of the resident ‘ghosts’ living in other people’s rented homes off the record for more than six months.
Lettings agencies that have discovered people living in rented properties who were not listed on the tenancy agreement have found on average almost one in ten of the properties on their books were affected.
In one property in Reading, multiple families were found to be living in a two-bedroom house, when just one person was listed on the tenancy agreement.
Landlords’ insurance policies and potentially their buildings cover could be invalidated if multiple occupants are living in a property but are not listed on the tenancy agreement.
The research also found that the vast majority of landlords do not change the locks on properties between tenancies, even if not all the keys have been returned.
Of the letting agencies surveyed, 71% said that on average nine out of 10 landlords on their books did not change the locks between tenancies.
Jane Guaschi, business manager at Direct Line for Business, said: “Lettings agents have seen significant damage caused to properties where people were crammed into a home while not listed on the lease. In one property we heard of, shelving had been removed from a cupboard under the stairs to create a makeshift bedroom.
"Landlords can reduce the financial risks associated with renting out properties by taking out insurance to cover against risks such as accidental damage. However, this cover could be invalidated if there are occupants who are not listed on the tenancy agreement.”