Toby could always sniff a sub-letter out. No matter how comprehensive the agent claimed their referencing process was, something was not quite right. Subletting is opportunistic profit taking by chancers on the back of a trusting landlord who ends up bearing all the costs.
The flat ends up having much more spent on wear and tear than it should because many more people are passing through and/or inhabiting the duelling than are listed on the tenancy agreement.Everything wears out more quickly. The carpets down to bare thread. The walls get scuffed. People who are unfamiliar with the property can’t work out how the blinds work and pull the cord too hard. Plumbing problems arise because a flat meant for three people is occupied by eight. The landlord needs to be vigilant.
There was that time that the twin sisters, living at home with their parents, decided it was time to be independent. Which on the surface is a fine and plausible motive for renting. Yet, alarm bells rang (and Toby pointed this out to the agent) when it turned out that the family home was 400 metres away. Some independence!
And when said sisters asked to meet Toby after the rental had been confirmed, he had barely walked through the front door when they asked if each of the bedrooms in his HMO could have a lock fitted. It caused them some discomfort when he wondered why siblings were concerned that their stuff wasn’t safe from each other. Door locks, as well as posing a fire risk, are a classic subletters tool. How else to make total strangers feel secure sharing a dwelling with people they don’t know.
Alarm bells should have been going like the clappers when it became apparent that they had not brought any bed linen into the property a full two weeks into the tenancy. While he had been there, they were relaying Instructions on how to set the heating timer to a.n. other person who was not in the building which seemed a peculiar thing to do. And these two twenty somethings had yet to arrange the installation of broadband. Young people without wifi? In 2021?
So now, there were several markers of something not being quite as it seems. Toby had a deep cynicism regarding what agents do actually check. On his return home, he searched for the sisters on the Companies House website. Lo and behold, they both had their own companies. Toby had struck gold; letting to two company directors. Model citizens. Perhaps on the surface. But does a directorship make you a nice person? It turned out that they were each heading up their own property management company. Subletters after all then.
Not living there. Advertising online. Cash only. Probably no legal agreement. Room by room letting. Or AirBnb perhaps. Want somewhere to hold a house party but not trash your own place? Anything and everything. Off the back of the honest and law abiding.
And no help or accountability from those that should help out. The agents insisting they are blameless and there is nothing they can do, That is if they aren’t involved in the scam in the first place. Lawyers who can’t remove the subtenants nor end your legal tenancy with the scamsters for you. Or can, eventually, at exorbitant cost.
And always the fear of doing something wrong as far as the authorities are concerned. Tenants are always virtuous and landlords are parasites. As the press like to have it.
The moral of the story is to check the supplied references with a fine tooth comb. Any discrepancies, fire them back at the agents. The tenants will invariably cut and run and try to find a more gullible landlord.