Ghost Tenants Put Landlords and Agents at Risk

Buy-to-let landlords have millions of ‘ghost tenants’ secretly living in their rented properties and The Online Letting Agents is urging landlords and agents to check their properties, to avoid the possibility of hefty fines resulting from the new immigration legislation.

According to recent research*, at least 3 million ghost tenants live in the UK’s 4.5 million buy to lets and shared houses in multiple occupation (HMO). (*Source: Direct Line for Business).  The study shows that 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.

More than half of letting agents have found ghost tenants living in rented homes when they have visited for inspections. Ghost tenants are not listed on tenancy agreements and move in without the landlord’s knowledge or consent.

Eleanor Carroll, Director of The Online Letting Agents commented: “We know from our recent studies that most landlords are not confident about making the immigration checks that will be required by the new legislation.  Despite reassurances that landlords will not be responsible for illegal ‘ghost’ tenants that are living in their property, one in ten landlords is still worried that they will be responsible for any ‘ghost tenants’ that are illegal immigrants.

“It is thought that up to 85 per cent of illegal immigrants end up living in privately rented accommodation. Landlords who do not use a letting agent to let their properties need to be aware that they may be targeted by individuals who do not have the required documentation.

“It is important that landlords and agents check properties for ghost tenants; looking out for signs such as more rubbish than expected for the number of tenants; excessive wear and tear to the property; evidence of additional sleeping arrangements; extra clothing and shoes in the property.

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