A major landlord insurance provider recently reported on the problem of the increasing number of ‘ghost’ tenants within the private rental sector sparking concerns over the validity of many landlord insurance policies.
The insurer surveyed a number of letting agents and concluded that as many as one in ten rented properties contain ‘resident ghosts’.
Whilst the more unscrupulous or uninterested landlord may turn a blind eye to this – in effect they have less chance of a tenant falling into arrears if the tenant is subsidising their rent payment with an additional income, other landlords who are more responsible may find ‘ghostbusting’ difficult bearing in mind they must give a tenant at least 24 hours notice in writing before inspecting the property (except in an emergency which necessitates immediate access) giving the tenant plenty of time to hide any evidence of sub-letting.
The average monthly rent in the UK is now £743, just £1 below the record high in October 2012. The average monthly rent in London is now £1,126. In 2009, the average rent was roughly £100 lower, and £250 lower in London, now making the capital a hotspot for sub-letting and ‘ghosts’.
So why is this such a problem? The issues are twofold. Firstly, overcrowding within a property can often lead to greater deterioration of the property as the sub-tenants, not bound by the tenancy agreement, cannot be held responsible or accountable for any damage to the property, and secondly any claims on the landlord insurance policy may be invalidated due to ‘non disclosure’.
There is however no need to panic. As a landlord you should make arrangements to visit your property regularly as, in the event of a claim you can show the insurer ‘due diligence’ i.e. you have done your best to ensure that your tenants are indeed who they say they are, there should be no problems in the event of a claim.
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