Following a fresh number of complaints from misled tenants, the National Landlords Association (NLA) has warned renters to remain vigilant in the face of growing numbers of fraudulent landlords.
After receiving a sizeable number of complaints in August 2010, the NLA says that it has again been contacted about rogue landlords operating on websites such as Gumtree.
NLA Warns of Fraudulent Landlords
An investigation from the NLA uncovered a number of fraudsters who use fake NLA branding or lettering to convince would-be renters to pay advanced fees. Rogue landlords seem to target foreign nationals who are searching for property online. In particular, those looking for university accommodation are very vulnerable to these types of scams.
Once a potential tenant has been conned into thinking that there is a genuine tenancy agreement, a fraudster will often send emails or a letter to prove their legitimacy. This is where many are convinced to hand over cash. On receipt, fraudulent landlords will become unreachable and the tenant will be out of pocket.
It is imperative that tenants should not send any payment to advertisers online before they are completely certain about their legitimacy. Clues that landlords are fake include receiving communication with poor grammar and unofficial markings. Overseas tenants looking for accommodation in the UK should ask for the advice of their employer or university. They will in turn be able to advise tenants of accredited landlords and local agents.
The NLA has come together with the National Crime Agency and the National Union of Students to offer guidance on how to avoid and tackle rental fraud. These tips include:
- Not sending money until the tenant is completely sure that their source is genuine.
- The use of Government approved deposit schemes.
- Overseas applicants seeking assistance from employers and universities.
- Asking for relevant paperwork connected to the property, such as safety certificates, to prove that the landlord is genuine.
Victims of rental fraud short alert the police by visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk