Resident ghosts - people living unofficially in rented properties

Housing development
Housing development

According to new research commissioned by Direct Line for Business, there are 3.3 million people across the UK living in rented accommodation who are not listed on the tenancy agreement.

Almost half (49 per cent) of residential lettings agencies, who check properties under management, have found multiple occupants living in a home unofficially.

Three quarters (75 per cent) of these resident ‘ghosts’ have been living in other people’s rented homes unofficially for more than six months.

Lettings agents who have discovered people living in rented properties who were not listed on the tenancy agreement, have found on average almost one in ten (8 per cent) of the properties on their books were affected.

Jane Guaschi, Business Manager at Direct Line for Business, said: “Lettings agents have seen significant damage caused to properties where people were crammed into a home while 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. Landlords can reduce the financial risks associated with renting out properties by taking out insurance to cover against risks such as accidental damage. However, this cover could be invalidated if there are occupants who are not listed on the tenancy agreement.”

The research also highlighted the vast majority of landlords do not change the locks on properties between tenancies, even if not all the keys have been returned.

Of the letting agencies surveyed the vast majority (71 per cent) said that on average nine out of ten landlords on their books did not change the locks between tenancies.

With many tenants cutting multiple sets of keys to give to partners or family this poses a significant security risk.