NLA Warning About Rental
The National Landlords Association (NLA) has re-issued its 2010 warning to landlords, letting agents and tenants about online fraudsters operating in the UK’s private rental sector after resurgence of complaints over suspect practitioners.
The NLA began to receive a large number of complaints back in August 2010, concerning fraudsters who operate online, using popular free websites such as Gumtree to attract unwitting victims, and the landlord association has now started to receive a new wave of complaints.
The NLA investigated and uncovered several online rental property fraudsters who would trick tenants into paying them an advance fee to rent a property by using underhand tactics such as official landlord association branding or fake letters claiming to be from NLA local representatives to support their demand for up-front payments in order to lure their victims in to a false sense of security.Scammers often target students and those who are coming from abroad and who are attempting to secure rental property online, and the main target types that are particularly vulnerable are overseas students who are looking for university accommodation.
The potential victims respond to advertisements, purporting to be from landlords or in some cases letting agents, on popular free websites for rental accommodation in the UK. After the applicants initial enquiry for rental property, they typically receive letters or emails that supposedly prove the legitimacy of the advertiser and the property to rent, the unsuspecting tenant is then asked to send money directly to the landlord or letting agent in order to secure the property. Typically once the money has been sent the so called landlord or letting agent suddenly becomes un-contactable and the potential tenant discovers that they have become the victim of fraudsters.
The NLA has teamed up with National Crime Agency (NCA), and the National Union of Students (NUS) to provide better guidance on property rental fraud.
The NLA state that tenants, no matter where they are from, should not send payment to advertisers before they make certain that the advertiser is genuine and that the property offered for rent is real.
Prospective tenant applicants should take great care before parting with money:
- Check the email address of the person offering the property, if they are agents then the name of the agency should be part of the email address.
- If advertisers claim to be letting agents – look them up
- Fake letters from bogus landlords, letting agents or official organisations are often written in poor English.
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