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Half of all landlords have had runaway tenants

A survey by the National Landlords Association shows that up to half of the country’s landlords have at some point had a property abandoned by a tenant.

And of those landlords who have experienced runaway tenants, nearly four in ten say that this has happened to them within the past year, with more than a fifth saying it has happened just within the past six months.

But it’s not all bad news for landlords, as 41% of those questioned say that it has been more than two years since a tenant has abandoned one of their properties, suggesting that as landlords become more experienced they become less likely to suffer property abandonment.

David Salusbury, chairman of the NLA, says: “Despite the fact that the majority of tenancies end satisfactorily for both parties, the findings of our survey show that all landlords face the risk of a tenant abandoning a property at some time.

“If you are a landlord for many years, or if you have a large number of rented properties, sooner or later it will happen to you.”

“We recommend a number of steps landlords can take to minimise the risks. These include asking for a written reference from the prospective tenant’s current employer.”

The findings indicate that once a landlord has experienced an absconding tenant they do, for the most part, take action to guard themselves against a recurrence of the problem.

More than half, 52%, of landlords who have experienced a tenant abandoning one of their properties say it has only happened to them once.

But one-fifth of landlords say they have suffered the experience on three or more occasions in the past two years. which suggests that in reality it is a tough ask for landlords to prevent tenants from absconding.

Salusbury adds: “Tenants are much less likely to abandon a property if a landlord has a record of their place of work and next of kin. A written reference should also be sought from the previous landlord, where relevant.

“Landlords usually also take a month’s deposit at the start of the tenancy which can go part way to covering lost rent or damages.

“But they should note that from October 2006 rental deposits will have to be placed in an authorised tenancy deposit scheme, under the provisions of the Housing Act 2004.”

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