The National Landlords Association (NLA) has released figures saying 36pc of landlords have had a tenant abandon their property.
Abandonment is when a tenant leaves a property without informing the landlord, and it can become quite a costly process, especially given that abandonment usually happens when the tenant is in arrears.
One of the issues with abandonment is that a tenant still has the legal right to return to the property during the tenancy, nor can the landlord prevent the tenancy's continuation.
Landlords do, however, have the option to go through the legal process of regaining possession of the property - but it can take months to complete.
Where are landlords most at risk?
Though the national rate of reported abandonment is 36pc, there are some regional differences. 58pc of North East landlords experienced an abandoned property. 51pc in the rest of the North also experienced the issue.
In the South West, 31pc said they had had a property abandoned. It was the lowest proportion in the UK. Exactly a third of Londoners had to deal with abandoned properties - 33pc.
Richard Lambert is the chief executive of the NLA. He said: "The process of recovering an abandoned property is too long, frustrating and costly for landlords at the moment. The new Housing and Planning Act should go some way in reducing the number of abandoned properties - it will shock people just how common a problem it is."
What can landlords do to avoid the risk of abandoned properties?
It all comes down to tenants. Rental properties are in huge demand and it makes sense for landlords to take the time to weigh up prospective tenants - especially in terms of financial stability. Tenants will usually leave a property if they are panicking about their outstanding rent, so check whether tenants have the means of sustaining their rent repayments.
Parkers landlords could benefit from our Manage & Protect cover, which provides comprehensive protection for you should a tenant fail to meet the terms of their contract. In the event of a severe breach of contract, Parkers will pay for any unpaid rent during the tenancy and for the legal costs involved in regaining possession of your property.
The Manage & Protect service also references your tenants more comprehensively than other services, and also includes monthly credit checks to give regular updates on the tenant's financial situation.
A case study: Richard Blanco
Richard Blanco was a landlord in London. He had to serve an abandonment notice - widely regarded as an open invitation to squatters. He said, "My tenant just upped and left without any warning. Luckily I managed to track the tenant down and he handed back the keys and moved his possessions out, but I never recovered the outstanding rent of over £1,000.
"It took four weeks to sort out but it could have easily taken months longer."
To find out more about Manage & Protect please contact your local Parkers office today.