Private landlords who fail to take out rental guarantee insurance in the current economic climate could be putting themselves at risk, it has been suggested.

Some 1,232 landlords were found to have experienced a tenant who had run away from their rental accommodation after falling behind on rent payments, research by the Letting Protection Service showed in November.

This compared to 122 in the same month a year earlier and Kevin Firth, director of the firm, believes thousands of private landlords could be vulnerable to this problem - if they have not taken out rental guarantee insurance.

He said: "There could be thousands who have not, and in the current economy they will undoubtedly suffer from that loss."

This comes after buy-to-let specialist Paragon Mortgages found that around a third of private landlords were not conducting credit and reference checks on a regular basis before signing tenancy agreements.

John Heron, managing director at the lender, warned that tenants bailing out of rental properties to avoid paying rent is a more common problem than people think.

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