Tenants in occupation who are not on the tenancy agreement
TENANTS IN OCCUPATION WHO ARE NOT ON THE TENANCY AGREEMENT
So what do you do when you go to do a property inspection and you find that people are clearly living in occupation in a property who are not on the tenancy agreement?
Well, it depends on the situation.
We have found this happens quite a lot. Most of our properties are two bedroom houses – 2 bedrooms upstairs and 2 separate rooms downstairs with a separate kitchen.
It is not unusual, especially for our tenants from central and eastern Europe, for us to find that they have moved in, say their Mum, to look after their child or that a sister or brother is also there and is living and working from there.
Usually, they don’t tell us in advance, we find out when we come to do viewings. But it is not something they usually try to hide either.
Are we concerned about this?
No, not usually, but it depends. If the house looks like it is still being well looked after, (which it usually is), and if it helps them to pay the rent (they always ALL do paid work, except for the Mum who will be looking after the child), then I am not often too bothered about it.
And as one more person helps them pay the rent more easily and will not cause much more wear and tear, (our places are furnished just with “white goods”), I’m OK with that too.
Also, in this circumstance, they are part of the same household unit, so there are no issues about it being defined as an house in multi-occupation (HMO), with all the additional costs that involves – licensing fees as well as higher mortgage and insurance costs potentially.
If the extra person means the place looks like it is not being well looked after, then I would want to have a discussion about the situation before deciding what to do.
In all cases, at least one of the original tenants must be still living at the property. If not, that is a much more serious “out of control” situation – and I would be looking to find out why and if the situation is not corrected, give notice to end the tenancy.
TENANTS IN OCCUPATION WHO ARE NOT ON THE TENANCY AGREEMENT – THE HMO ISSUE
If people are living at the property who are not directly and closely related to the original tenants, such that it would be deemed there are in fact two households living under one roof; this then moves a landlord into HMO territory, with the extra costs alluded to above.
You might be comfortable with this, but the extra costs you will bear should be reflected in the rent charged.
However, you may not like this and not accept the situation – and this is your choice. So in this case, tell them that only the people on the tenancy agreement should live there, plus any children under 18 they have. They must accept this. If they don’t, then you give notice to end the tenancy.
If you wish to accept new people, they have to be properly referenced, ID and affordability checked just as you would any new tenant. And a new tenancy agreement must be entered into with them on it as well and the old tenancy cancelled.
As the tenants caused the situation that necessitated a new contract being written, you are entitled to charge them £50 for this.
Of course you need to bear in mind that there are rules on space that each person should have in a let property, but that is the subject of another post here.
It has long been my view that many letting agents are not really on top of this kind of stuff, especially where their staff turnover is high – and the staff do not get to know who was supposed to be living in the property in the first place.
Too many letting agent see their annual or 6 monthly inspection as just a cursory look at the building to see if it needs any maintenance that they can make a “turn on” by giving the work to pet tradesmen and builders with a tidy 20% margin cut in for the agent.
TENANTS IN OCCUPATION WHO ARE NOT ON THE TENANCY AGREEMENT – THE LETTING AGENT ROLE
The letting agent who comes to inspect may not even know who is supposed to be in the property – often because they personally did not meet them in the first place – and most won’t care anyway.
So, if you use letting agents for management, this is another thing you need to ask your agent to check on.
You should ask them to do their inspection viewings when the tenants are ALL in. This may involve them doing it in the evenings or weekends, which they’d prefer not to do, of course. Obviously, they should be looking for evidence like the number of beds.
You should ask them to take along the original ID photos, so they can check the people who are living there ARE the original tenants. And get the letting agent to report back that this is indeed the case. If people are living there who are not on the tenancy agreement, it is for the agent to sort out under instructions from you.
Many tenants will claim that the other person(s) is/are, “Only here for a month. for a holiday”. This is a common excuse (which may or may not be true) and needs to be followed in a months’s time to check if it is true. It is more likely to be true in summer, but in our winter months, outside Christmas, should be viewed with scepticism.
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