Unnamed tenants on Joint Occup - dodgy?

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  • Unnamed tenants on Joint Occup - dodgy?

    I'm new here, but have been letting my house to uni students without hassle for years now. What with one thing and another (mostly the glut of buy-to-lets in our town!) I haven't been able to secure student tenants this year for the coming academic year, which is a real pain, because they're a known quantity and things usually work out predictably with student tenants.

    I have been approached by a non-student who wants to rent my house. It's a 4 bedroom place, 2 floors. He says he has 'friends' who would sleep in the other rooms, but is adamant that he is the named person on the contract and was very cagey when I asked him about the others. He says they are all 4 of them working, and that's all I could get from him. I said I always have all tenants named on the Joint Tenancy Agreement and would like this to remain the case. He is saying that I will get my rent any way I want it when it's due and therefore I shouldn't be fussed about the other tenants. He says they don't talk English and therefore I'd be dealing with him anyway. Hmm.

    Ok, I'm not such an ingenue that this doesn't smell like a huge rat, but are there legal reasons why I shouldn't proceed? (We are getting desperate - I'm at home on no pay with my baby, we're on one income and we couldn't get tenants last year because of the timing of the baby/really bad letting agency.) Do I need all the tenants' names on the contract for it to be legal?

    And yes, it has crossed my mind that he may be attempting to charge his 'friends' more than it works out at! My gut instincts are screaming that he's dodgy (he's also trying for a reduction in rent because he has to find council tax too...) but we really need to get tenants in. Is this legal? Would any of you guys touch him with a bargepole if you were desperate?

    Sorry, this is long for a first post! Thanks for your help.

  • #2
    I would not be willing to lose complete control of residents in my property at any cost, nor expose myself to the risk of it being turned into a cannabis farm.

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    • #3
      I agree with Beeber...I would want (a) to meet these 'friends' face to face and (b) to reference them. I think it smells fishy and wouldn't touch them otherwise.

      In your situation I would go all out to get either a family or more students, even if it means reducing the rent by 10%. Have you tried contacting the Uni accommodation office (who often have lists of students seeking houses) or advertising on accommodationforstudents.com? They get a lot of hits. Your other option is to pay your current student tenants a generous finder's fee to get you the next bunch (subject to your normal vetting procedures). This is a stress free option in many ways since they do all the viewings and it's in their interests to make sure the property looks good! Wave £300 in front of most groups of student tenants and they are very interested. My final suggestion is to put a wodge of fliers for your property preferably with photos, on the notice board of every hall of residence in the uni (this is where most first years live and they are the ones you are targeting).

      Good luck.
      'Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation fo the first link on one memorable day'. Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

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      • #4
        "I have been approached by a non-student who wants to rent my house."..

        Don't touch him with a very long barge-pole..

        Mind you, ask him where he lives & that you'll pop round to fill in the application form... Bet you find something the Police/HMRC would be interested in!

        Cheers!
        I am legally unqualified: If you need to rely on advice check it with a suitable authority - eg a solicitor specialising in landlord/tenant law...

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        • #5
          My worries are that this guy may overfill the house (if it's more than 4 people it's an HMO, right? regardless of only being 2 floors), make money out of his 'friends' above and beyond what I'm charging him, or even conceivably use the house for something illegal. At any rate, I hate the idea that people whose names I don't know are in the house and I won't know anything about them. How do I contact them if there's a complaint from a neighbour? How do I talk to them if I need to arrange someone to come in for maintenance?


          MInd the Gap - I always advertise on the uni accom board, but this year and last year, it's oversaturated with houses and maybe there aren't as many students. It's certainly a buyers' market, anyway. We've hardly had any groups visit, and no offers. I also use Accom for Students website and haven't had anything from them, most unusually. There are no tenants in at the moment, hence my desperation. I have fliers on several noticeboards on campus but will do some more with photos, which will stand out, at least. We're doing most things we can think of, and I've never had this problem before! The house is perfectly nice and not a horrible student dive!

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          • #6
            Originally posted by MarthaLet View Post
            My worries are that this guy may overfill the house (if it's more than 4 people it's an HMO, right? regardless of only being 2 floors), make money out of his 'friends' above and beyond what I'm charging him, or even conceivably use the house for something illegal. At any rate, I hate the idea that people whose names I don't know are in the house and I won't know anything about them. How do I contact them if there's a complaint from a neighbour? How do I talk to them if I need to arrange someone to come in for maintenance?



            MInd the Gap - I always advertise on the uni accom board, but this year and last year, it's oversaturated with houses and maybe there aren't as many students. It's certainly a buyers' market, anyway. We've hardly had any groups visit, and no offers. I also use Accom for Students website and haven't had anything from them, most unusually. There are no tenants in at the moment, hence my desperation. I have fliers on several noticeboards on campus but will do some more with photos, which will stand out, at least. We're doing most things we can think of, and I've never had this problem before! The house is perfectly nice and not a horrible student dive!
            That's unusual - student numbers are supposed to be rising by 10-15% annually for the next 5 years. Has the Uni been building/opening big blocks of self-contained accommodation itself, or something? Which Uni is it?

            Perhaps the tide is turning and students are starting a trend for good old fashioned 'dives' again - like in 'The Young Ones'? Better get the analglypta and lime green paint out, quick.
            'Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation fo the first link on one memorable day'. Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

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            • #7
              Just turn him down. Tell him, as you already seem to have, you want to reference and credit check all prospective occupants and will not accept it any other way.

              Please tell me that you would have referenced and credit checked this person before deciding whether to accept him as a tenant.

              You don't actually need all occupants' names on a tenancy agreement. Named tenants are allowed to have lodgers without referring to you.

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              • #8
                In addition to all the comments above - irrespective of his assurances that you'll get the rent, if he's trying to reduce the rent because he can't afford the council tax too, what guarantees will you have that he will indeed pay the rent?

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