Who Are You Letting Your Property To?
It goes without saying that when you’re thinking of becoming a landlord, you need to think very hard about whether you want to entrust the day to day looking after your property to a complete stranger. Especially if the house isn’t just a property that was bought for a buy to let investment. But what could go wrong if you don’t thoroughly check out your prospective tenants?
It could be worse than just a bit of damage to the fixtures and fittings or the hassle and inconvenience to the landlord of unpaid rent and eviction proceedings – you could end up with a real tenant from hell, carrying out criminal activities and using your property to do it!
Sex Drugs, Rock and RollWhat a tenant does in their own home is largely their business – unless it’s criminal and the activities are being carried out from your property.
In August 2009, Welsh Police issued a warning to landlords to keep an eye out for tell tale signs that their properties were being used for drug manufacturing after a case where twelve Vietnamese nationals, were convicted of running a total of eight cannabis farms across north Wales. Not only was there thousands of pounds worth of damage caused to each of the properties, but each property also became the subject of a criminal investigation.
The police have issued a booklet with some helpful pointers for landlords, but they highlighted six things that should ring warning bells for potential drug/criminal activity.
- Potential tenants who are willing to pay large sums in cash to rent the propertyTenants always being out when the landlord wants to visit, and having a reason for them not being able to come in.Blacked out windowsLaundry bags or excessive amounts of bin bags being put out regularlyA pungent smellSigns that the electricity boxes have been tampered with, or excessively high fuel bills.
Using your Property as a BrothelThis one can be even more of a worry as there are laws that you could fall foul of as a landlord if you knowingly let a property for that type of use. It’s an offence under the Sexual Offences Act for a landlord to turn a blind eye to the premises being used as a brothel. Interestingly, if you have one tenant in the property and you discover that s/he is a prostitute bringing clients back to the home; it’s not an offence to let them continue – unless you put the rent up when you find out, in which case you can be charged for living off the earnings of prostitution instead!
Interestingly, if you let your property to a tenant who then knowingly lets another individual use the property for prostitution it’s a criminal offence too. Although the person doing the prostitution is not actually committing any offence.
The tenant of the property is committing an offence if they allow the property to be used as a brothel, and this will also put them in breach of their tenancy agreement, so you can evict any tenants that you suspect of carrying on that particular type of business pretty swiftly. If you’re in any doubt as to what’s going on and who might know about it, seek specific legal advice on eviction as the law is confusing when it comes to responsibility for what goes on in a property where the sex trade is concerned.