Fraudulent applications for rental property are always a risk, but at times of economic uncertainty and with the situation we have where demand for property is far outstripping supply, cases of fraud tend to increase.
What can you do to make sure you are not at risk of tenant’s making fraudulent applications for your rental property?
Two of the most common examples of fraud in the private rented sector are the use of fake documents at the time of an application and tenants subletting rooms without the landlord’s knowledge or permission. A bogus tenant can cost a landlord tens of thousands of pounds in unpaid rent, legal costs and eviction orders.
In the case of fake documents these may include bogus references, forged identification and fraudulent or amended bank statements and payslips. Landlords have long been aware of the risk of fraud, but sophisticated software used to produce such documents often by criminals who offer these services can mean it is getting harder and harder to spot the fakes amongst the genuine paperwork.
Thorough checks are more important than ever for identification, right to rent, income or landlord or employment references. My advice is never ever skip the reference stage and don’t accept only minimal documentation to speed up any arrangements. There is too much at stake. I would recommend always using a trusted and experience letting agent to find and vet prospective tenants. As agents we know what to look out for in terms of genuine and fraudulent documentation and which questions to ask to get the true results.
Secondly the issue of tenants subletting rooms without consent it an increased risk during times of uncertainty and some tenants knowing that other prospective tenants are often desperate for accommodation may also be looking to make some money from the situation.
However, subletting can mean a range of issues for you, the landlord, including defaulting on mortgage or insurance policy terms, maintenance issues may go unreported, there could be a loss of control over your property due to complications over evicting a subletting tenant.
For landlords who opt for a fully managed service with an agent, these situations of application fraud and subletting will be avoided as they are closely managed by the agent. For landlords who prefer to self-manage their rental property, at Pennington, through our Pick and Mix suite of services we offer extra help as and when you may choose it. This includes everything from marketing the property and finding suitable tenants, completing all the checks needed for a successful agreement and options for regular inspections and communication to ensure the tenancy runs smoothly throughout its lifetime.
This is for all landlords, you do not need to be a Pennington client to benefit so if you would like any advice on this or any other aspects of the letting process, please do not hesitate to contact me as I am always happy to help.
Managing Director / ARLA Propertymark Advisory Board
Tel: 01394 337590