An inventories supplier is advising that the growing number of sub-letting scams can be reduced by regular property visits by agents and landlords.
No Letting Go says there has been a rise in the number of sub-letting scams in recent months, often involving fraudsters using short-term lets platforms to let their landlord's properties without consent.
One recent example, which featured on BBC One's Inside Out programme, saw a managing agent discover a family being checked into a rental property by the existing tenants.
Further research uncovered a long-running sub-letting scam with over 70 reviews of the property left on Airbnb over the course of the tenancy.
The tenants were eventually evicted but not before they had cost the landlord a significant amount of stress and money in repairing property damage.
Unauthorised sub-letting creates a heightened risk of property damage and abnormal levels of wear and tear, and could invalidate a landlord's insurance policy. It can also breach local authority licensing schemes and a number of health and safety regulations.
"The growth of the short-term lets market heightens the risk of unlawful sub-letting as the available technology makes it easy for tenants to let properties quickly and easily without the knowledge of landlords and letting agents" says Nick Lyons, chief executive of No Letting Go.
“Sub-letting could cost landlords thousands of pounds of a long period of time. As well as the repair and maintenance costs to consider, there is also the increased chance of costly void periods while the property is being brought back to a lettable condition” he adds.
"What's more, if you are forced to evict a tenant due to sub-letting, it could be costly and time-consuming to repossess the property through the courts. This issue could be further exacerbated by the government's plans to scrap the Section 21 evictions process."
Lyons says there are steps which agents and landlords can take to minimise the chances of falling victim to such a scam.
"Regular property visits and inspections can help to identify the tell-tale signs of subletting such as additional rubbish and the presence of people not named on the tenancy agreement. You will discourage tenants from subletting and in the event that they are carrying out unlawful activity, you can bring a stop to it as soon as possible” he says.
"Professional inventories and carrying out the check-out process properly can also offer additional protection. If tenants have been subletting a property, the presence of an inventory can provide the required evidence for landlords to recoup some of the property damage and maintenance costs from the tenant's security deposit" he adds.