A firm of high court enforcement officers has warned that the illegal subletting of rental properties is on the increase.
The Sheriffs Office says that an increasing number of tenants are finding their rental agreement is null and void while genuine landlords have no idea their property is being sublet room by room.
Writing on the Sheriffs Office website, David Carter says:
“We recently repossessed two adjacent properties for a landlord in Sutton, South London. He had let them out, not realising his two new tenants were actually husband and wife, because they were using different surnames.
“Once they had signed the tenancy agreements, they proceeded to sublet every room, often with a whole family in each room. The sub tenants all thought they had legitimate tenancies and were being given receipts for the rent – always payable in cash.
“Once the landlord found out, he obtained possession orders for both properties, which we enforced. The actual repossession started took over eight hours, partly due to the sheer number of people living there, and also due to carloads of tenants’ friends and families turning up to try to stop what was happening, legitimately they thought.
“I feel a good deal of sympathy for the sub tenants – they had done nothing wrong but had been victims of this pair of ruthless dishonest “fake landlords”, who were already wanted by the police.”
Carter says the Sutton case is part of a widespread problem with housing shortage problems, particularly in London, being met by “fake landlords” subletting properties room by room or renting out commercial premises without proper living facilities.