With the new academic year just around the corner, the National Landlords Association is warning tenants to be extra careful when looking for accommodation.
Many students have more serious issues than late nights, cheap drinks and questionable eating habits. The NLA receive a large number of complaints each year from tenants who have been scammed by fraudulent landlords and many have been targeted online.
Previous instances of scamming by rogue landlords include tricking tenants to pay an advance fee for renting a property that was never available and using fake letter heading with NLA logos.
More commonly, fraudsters target foreign students looking to secure student accommodation online. Usually, once the money has been sent by the would-be tenant, the ‘landlord’ becomes impossible to contact, leaving the tenant as a victim of fraud.
As a result, the NLA is reissuing their guidance on avoiding rental fraud online. The guidelines have been released with the support and in conjunction with the NUS and the National Crime Agency.
The guidelines are as follows:
- Do not send money to anyone upfront who are advertising online. Instead, check that they are genuine and try and view the property first
- Be wary if asked to send any money via a transfer service as criminals can get details from the receipt to withdraw money from another location
- Always use government approved deposit schemes
- If in doubt, always contact the organisation that the landlord claims to be affiliated with, to verify their status
- For overseas applicants needing accommodation for employment, they should ensure that they enlist the help of their employer or university
- Always ask for paperwork and proof of the tenancy agreement and safety certificates
- Remember that when something seems too good to be true, it normally is!
Students warned over fraudulent landlords
‘Rental fraud is one of the uglier aspects of private renting and it tends to rear its head this time of year as students, particularly those coming from abroad, look to secure rented accommodation for the academic year,’ said Carolyn Uphill, Chairman of the National Landlords Association.
‘Tenants, no matter where they are from, should not send payment to advertisers before they are certain it is genuine and should contact their university who will have list of reputable landlords and letting agents,’ she continued.
Uphill went on to address would-be tenants by saying, ‘if you receive official correspondence from a landlord and are worried it might be a scam, often a good clue is that it will be written in poor English. Tenants should also remember they can check if a landlord is an NLA member or accredited by visiting www.landlords.org.uk/member-verification.’
‘Any tenant that falls victim to such a scam should contact the relevant authorities in their own country and alert the police in the UK via www.actionfraud.police.uk,’ Uphill concluded.