The secret lives of ghost tenants living in rented homes
By Simon Thompson
Buy to let landlords have millions of ghost tenants secretly sharing their rented homes, a survey of letting agents has revealed.
Ghost tenants are not listed on tenancy agreements and move in without the landlord’s knowledge or consent.
The study calculated at least 3 million ghost tenants live in the UK’s 4.5 million buy to lets and shared houses in multiple occupation (HMO).
More than half of letting agents have found ghost tenants living in rented homes when they have visited for inspections.
Around 75% of ghost tenants admit they have lived in the rented properties for at least six months.
Unfortunately, tenants often do not realise that other adults living in the home who are not listed on the tenancy agreement can cause legal problems.
Direct Line for Business confirms ghost tenants will void any landlord contents or rent guarantee insurance policy held with the company – and probably the buildings cover as well.
The main problem is the number of tenants living in the property could change the licensing status from a buy to let to HMO.
HMOs need a mandatory license if the home has three floors or houses six or more tenants. Some local authorities licence small HMOs with three to five tenants.
Direct Line for Business revealed at least three families were living in one two bedroomed house in Reading, Berkshire, but only one person was named on the tenancy agreement.
This changed the house from a buy to let to an unlicensed HMO which was flouting fire and safety regulations.
Jane Guaschi, of Direct Line for Business, said: "Lettings agents have seen significant damage from people crammed into a home who are 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."
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