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Fraud on Landlords and Tenants

Rental Property Scams

It is not just homeowners who are being targeted. Fraudsters are also targeting tenants by posing as landlords, or agents, and advertising fake properties to rent. Tenants and prospective tenants may be asked to hand over deposits to secure a property which does not exist. Tenants can also be asked to pay the rent upfront and the fraudsters then run off with the money.

Tenants should only pay a deposit into a government-sanctioned deposit scheme (currently the Tenancy Deposit Scheme, Deposit Protection Service and MyDeposits). In respect of holding deposits, tenants should only pay a holding deposit to a trusted landlord or letting agent and only after having viewed the property and having terms agreed subject to contract.

There are now platforms where sales and lettings are agreed online without the property being viewed in person. You should always see the property in person. This also applies to buyers wishing to purchase a property.

As a landlord or tenant, you should use a reputable letting agent. If you are dealing with a landlord directly, you should ensure they own the property by seeing a copy of the registered title and verify their identity by seeing a copy of their drivers’ licence and/or passport.

Landlords can also be a victim of property fraud where a criminal tenant steals the landlord’s identity and sells the property on. Landlords must conduct thorough checks on their prospective tenants and visit the property a few days after the tenant has moved in to make sure they are living there (as a fraudster wishing to sell the property on is unlikely to move into the property). Landlords and agents should also carry out periodic inspections of the property.

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