What your tenants get up to in their own home is completely up to them. However, private rented accommodation is commonly targeted for illegal activity, so we’ve outlined five common crimes that could be happening in one of your properties right now – and how you can prevent and deal with them.
Subletting is a growing problem but it may not necessarily be illegal unless it happens without your knowledge and consent. However, it increases the cost of renting for unwitting sub-tenants, affecting their rights and security of tenure, and it can breach your mortgage terms, licensing terms (if you let out shared homes), as well as invalidate existing insurance products.
Taking out property insurance is therefore advised, as normal home insurance policies will not cover you for subletting.
Real financial harm and personal distress can be inflicted if on you if you fall victim to identity theft or identity fraud. Previous tenants of a property, who still have sensitive mail being delivered to the house, are most at risk.
But landlords should also be vigilant. It is important to make thorough background checks and take references from prospective tenants, before you move a tenant in, as well as reminding outgoing tenants to arrange for their mail to be appropriately redirected. The NLA has previously worked with the Royal Mail to bring this issue to light.
It is a criminal offence to allow a property to be used for prostitution, particularly if you are aware but took no action.
If your property is being used as a brothel then this will certainly constitute a breach of the tenancy agreement. Without hard evidence it could be difficult to prove, and thus evict, on these grounds, although we may be able to help you out on this front.
You should be wary of tenants who ask to pay rent upfront for long periods or in cash. If you have serious concerns then ask your neighbours to keep an eye on the property as they will be able to alert you to any suspicious behaviour. However, consider speaking to the police and to the NLA advice line who can offer both support and guidance
There’s fine line between what counts as anti-social behaviour (ABS) but it commonly includes things like threats of violence, harassment, verbal abuse, noise complaints from neighbours, rubbish dumping, and vandalism.
ASB is one of the main reasons cited by local councils for introducing landlord licensing schemes, but in reality there’s little that you can do to resolve the issue, other than by eviction.
The best way to prevent it is to prepare at the beginning of the tenancy by thoroughly vetting your tenants. You can also ask your neighbours to let you know if they see a rise in such behaviour from your tenants.
Private properties are targeted for drug production as it can prove a convenient way to conceal illegal activity. But beyond the obvious criminality of the drug trade and its associated problems, it can result in considerable costs to repair damage, as well as a reduction in property value, and potentially the loss of access to the premises altogether.
Tell-tale signs would include blacked-out windows or always-drawn curtains, modifications or visible damage to the property, irregular or suspicious activity, and obvious smells.
If you suspect illegal activity, speak to the police and local drug action agencies. But before that, consider taking out residential landlord property insurance, as this can provide much-needed cover for damages caused by law-breaking tenants.