Friday, 28 January 2011 3:02 PM
Q: “My landlord recently wrote to inform me that he would like to access the flat to let a surveyor in, because he was remortgaging the property. He said that he was applying for a residential mortgage and that if I was around at the time of the visit, I should play along and pretend that he lived there with me. This sounds fraudulent to me but, as I won’t be around at the time of the visit and therefore won’t have to lie, is it really any of my business? I don’t plan to stay in the property longer than the 10 months remaining on the tenancy agreement. Is it best for me to just keep out of it?”
A: "Sadly, this scenario is all too common, because residential mortgage lenders usually offer better mortgage deals to owner-occupiers as opposed to buy-to-let applicants. Should you go along with your landlord’s fraudulent scheme? Most certainly not.
"First, if you were to do so there is the possibility that you would be committing a criminal offence under the Fraud Act 2006, that of fraud by false representation - quite apart from your duty as a responsible citizen not to turn a blind eye to criminal activity.
"Second, if your landlord succeeds in his scheme, but later defaults on his mortgage payments, you might know nothing about it until you are at real risk of being evicted from your home on fairly short notice, because the landlord’s mortgage company will not know of your existence. If a mortgage company knows about a tenancy before it advances a loan, it cannot evict a tenant without obeying the notice terms in the tenancy agreement, which gives far more security to the tenant.
"In this situation, you have two very good reasons not to go along with the landlord’s fraudulent scheme."
Answered by Peter Sisson, a partner at law firm Barlow Robbins LLP.
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