You may have read the article in the Guardian on rent to rent recently. The piece, by Emma Lunn and Patrick Collinson, highlighted the dubious and increasingly common practice of rent to rent.
After reading the article, Claire, a Director at Kensbridge, shares her experience of rent to rent:
‘We have been directly affected by rent to rent very recently. A young Irish man applied through one of our regular letting agents to take a 12 month AST of a flat. His references were externally checked and pronounced good and so he was granted a tenancy. Sub-letting was not permitted; he told us his brother would sometimes stay at the flat and this was agreed.
It was only when we carried out a regular six-monthly inspection that we discovered he had never moved in himself, but sub-let without authority to four individuals through myspareroom.com. They were all very shocked and distressed to learn from us that the rogue was not in fact their landlord.
Fortunately, I managed to renegotiate with three of the four sub-tenants, who became direct tenants and stayed on (with no deposit) paying rent direct to us, their new landlord and cutting out the rogue. One of them is currently negotiating a new AST. Each of the original occupants paid a deposit to the rogue tenant; one of them went to the Police, but has no expectation of getting a response as the rogue can’t be traced.
This is regrettable. He lied to us (asking for extra keys for a spurious cleaner, and claiming to have lost a key) and to ‘his’ tenants (he told them the flat was owned by his parents, for whom he managed it).
Since the case of the Irishman, we have had another ‘near miss’ involving a tenant whose own credit check did not show sufficient income, but who offered a guarantor, who was ‘passed’ by an external agency.
I understand that many landlords rely exclusively on tenant checks by external agency. These agencies are not regulated. From my experience they often fail to look behind an apparently good reference which, with the simplest of checks, may be found to be a sham. Landlords need to be aware of this.’
Does Claire’s experience come as a surprise to you? Have you been affected by a rogue tenant or had any near misses? It would be great to hear your thoughts.
And be sure to reduce your risk of being exposed to rent to rent by undertaking thorough checks of ALL potential tenants. The NLA offer a quick and easy-to-use online system which reduces the risk of letting to unreliable tennants. We offer an in-depth tenant check on an individuals, including reference checks, at a discounted price for Full NLA members.