Letting agents and landlords have been warned to look out for so-called ghost tenants living in their properties. According to research from Direct Line for Businesses, there is at least three million of these individuals, who reside in a property despite not being on the tenancy agreement, secretly living in the country’s rental properties and close to three-quarters of these having been present for six months or more.
The Online Letting Agents has advised landlords and agencies to look out for ghost tenants ahead of the introduction of the Immigration Bill, as they could face substantial fines if people who do not have a right to live in the UK are found in the homes they let.
Director of the organisation Eleanor Carroll stated: “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 and extra clothing and shoes in the property.”
More than half of letting agents have reported finding ghost tenants in rental properties they have visited for inspections, according to The Online Letting Agents.
Ms Carroll said that while reassurances have been made that the government will not hold landlords accountable should these tenants prove to be illegal immigrants, one in ten rental property owners are still worried about this.
She added it is thought that 85 per cent of illegal immigrants end up living in the private rented sector. Ms Carroll also warned that those landlords who do not use letting agents may be targeted by these individuals as they try to avoid the checks agencies will be forced to carry out once the Immigration Bill is brought into force.
Last week, Landlord Assist expressed concerns about the legislation, saying it believes a heavy burden will be placed on the rental sector by asking individuals with limited knowledge of complex immigration rules to carry out checks.