Fraudulent tenancies on the increase in the UK

Are Tenant Applicants Really Who They Claim To Be?

UK Landlords and letting agents are being warned about an increase in bogus tenant applications.

Fraudulent applicants have been filling out tenancy application forms provided by honest landlords and agents, giving inaccurate or misleading information, in a bid to secure the rental of the property.

It is not unknown for the fraudsters to move from property to property, with no intention of keeping up with the rent, even within the same small town.

Fraudulent tenants often give false information on where they have been living previously to throw referencing companies and letting agents off the trail.

They are also very difficult to evict as the more professional bad tenants appear to know their way round the legal system. Eviction of these “professional bad tenants” is better left to an eviction specialist such as Legal 4 Landlords.

Tenant fraud has been problem for letting agents and landlords alike for a number of years and is apparently on the increase in some parts of the UK.

It is essential that landlords and their agents have a checklist for new tenants that include obtaining ID documents and proof of current residency at the earliest stages of a tenancy application.

Landlords and their agents need to be alert for anything unusual that could increase the risk for the landlord.

Comprehensive tenant referencing services are a vital tool for landlords and letting agents to spot anomalies, oddities and the potential for fraud in all tenancy applications.

Tips for landlords and letting agents to help reduce Tenant Fraud.

  • Request photo ID
  • Obtain a credit check – individuals with good credit histories are generally good tenants.
  • Use a professional company, such as Legal 4 Landlords for thorough tenant referencing
  • Get references from employers – Obtain written references and where possible speak to the employer personally
  • Get references from all previous landlords – although references from landlords may need to be taken with a pinch of salt as some landlords just want to get rid of problem tenants and will give good references.
  • Obtain copies of payslips and bank statements
  • Compare addresses shown on the application with those shown on ID documents
  • Look at what kind of car the prospective tenant drives
  • Trust your gut instinct
  • Do not take anything at face value

Landlords are urged to double check everything and if they have any reasonable suspicion that things are not quite what they seem, then they should refuse the tenancy, no matter how desperate they are to get someone in their property. Letting to a dishonest tenant will cost the landlord even more financial heartache in the long term.

Landlords should also beware of another common practice employed by dishonest tenants – subletting!

Sub-letting is an illegal practice that the UK Government are trying to stamp out, however it has become a common practice among fraudsters in the private rented sector, (PRS).

When tenants have accepted the landlord’s terms and conditions regarding the tenancy, signed the AST and apparently appear to have moved in. Only to rent the property out again to another unsuspecting dupe at a profit. Often in cases where this happens the bogus tenant will abscond with everyones money, leaving the sub-letting tenant homeless and the poor, unsuspecting landlord high and dry.

When a landlord carries out regular periodic property maintenance, they should check that the occupier is still the same person named on the assured shorthold tenancy agreement, (AST).

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