Tenants Are Conned into Paying Upfront
Rental fraud is a common occurrence and happens when prospective tenants are conned into paying a fee upfront to the landlord to rent a property.
Often the property will not even exist. Occasionally, it will have been already rented out to someone else. Unfortunately, the customer then loses the fee he or she has paid, and that person will also miss out on the dream property they had their hearts set on.
Conmen will often suck their victim or victims into the scam via online advertising. The adverts will appear genuine because realistic photos are used to illustrate the property on the website. Sometimes the victim will indeed visit the property to view in person, but most times the payment is handed over without prior viewing, which is a foolish move.
According to the UK’s national centre for fraud and online crime, Action Fraud in 429 cases prospective buyers reported losing £5,000 or more.
And between April 1 2014 and 31 March this year, a total of 18,645 rental fraud reports were made to Action Fraud, with victims losing almost £2,000 each.
The organisation sees a rise in reporting levels during July and August. This peak is generally due to prospective buyers looking for holiday accommodation. Alarmingly, holiday fraud accounts for around 27 per cent of all rental fraud reports during this period.
University Students Are Frequently Targeted
And once the new semester at university begins, conmen will make college students and undergraduates their targets. Fake lettings are renowned for springing up around this time, with the conmen cruelly taking advantage of the large number of young people desperate for housing.
There is plenty of Property Inventory Software on the market such as https://inventorybase.co.uk/. This is a data-gathering tool that enables renters to create property reports easily on their iPhone, Android or iPad. The app will then convert the data into a document that can be digitally signed by the tenant on-site.
Generally, there is a lot of advice online for prospective tenants. It’s important to be aware of the standard advice – never feel pressurised into signing and always do your homework by verifying references. It is also a good idea to check reviews. Most importantly, if it looks and sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.