With so much of today’s property hunt taking place online, there’s a real opportunity for scammers to capitalise on unsuspecting tenants. Thankfully, users remain vigilant and sham lettings are well documented. If you’re on the property hunt, here are the common rental scams to avoid.
This trap is aimed at those living overseas who seek accommodation in the UK. A landlord will publish an ad on Gumtree featuring accredited NLA (National Landlords Association) logos. They will discuss the property in question with the individual and request payment before they move to the UK. Upon arrival to the country, the landlord is nowhere to be seen.
This is a popular scam in the lettings sector. It can be entirely dismantled by asking to see the property first. If you’re looking to rent a room or flat, you have the right to view it before paying any kind of deposit. If you’d like to find out whether a landlord is a member of the National Landlords Association, you can do so here.
This is a dangerous one which is really tough to notice at times. This scam involves the landlord going a step further than just advertising a property. The scammer will have access to an empty property which they’ll show you around. Unfortunately, the building isn’t actually theirs to rent out. By the time you come to move in, the property’s already occupied.
It can be really difficult to actually recognise this until it’s happened. It’s always important to be suspicious if the landlord is pressing for you to pay a security deposit/first month’s rent immediately.
Now this is a clever scam, which again is pretty difficult to spot. A tenant will go through the motions of renting a property and everything will appear legitimate. Coming to the reference check stage, the prospective tenant will sign a contract which says that if the references aren’t acceptable the deposit will be returned minus a fee for reference checks. This sounds reasonable – besides, you’ve got good references so don’t mind signing. Unfortunately, they’ll be deemed as unsatisfactory by the landlord. When you receive the deposit back, it’s a fraction of what you initially paid. If you’ve been bitten by this, it’s illegal and you have a right to be frustrated. Seek assistance immediately.
This is a particularly nasty one. The landlord will claim there’s no need for a security deposit. It sounds like a perfect situation – you just need to have a guarantor. When the tenancy comes to an end, the guarantor will be hit with a wave of unnecessary charges for repairs. This scam highlights the importance of inventory services.
Dodgy landlords are big fans of adding illegal charges to the tenancy agreement. Be wary of anything you sign your name to. If the charge is in your tenancy agreement and you sign it, you’re agreeing to pay. If you’re unsure whether a charge is necessary, do your research before signing. If a landlord tries to charge you for something which isn’t in the tenancy agreement, you don’t need to pay.
It’s a two sided coin – tenants can scam landlords too. One of the most common includes a tenant who asks to pay a deposit via Western Union or some other similar service. They pay too much ‘by mistake’ and ask the landlord to send the extra funds back. By this time, the landlord’s made the payment and the original payment has bounced. This leaves the landlord out of pocket and red faced. If you find yourself caught up in this, don’t pay any additional funds back until the initial payment clears/bounces.
It’s important to be vigilant when it comes to lettings scams. Here are a few warning signs to look out for:
Unfortunately, scam landlords give the profession a bad name. The truth is, scammers are few and far between though tenants are not always aware of this. This is why it’s even more important to get your inventories right. By turning to No Letting Go for our inventory services, you remove any possibility of deposit disputes and also reassure tenants of your legitimacy. Find out more about our services here.
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