Private tenants can now verify a landlord's credentials for any UK rental opportunity following the launch of a new landlord checking service by RentProfile, designed to prevent fake landlord fraud.
The site aims to provide peace of mind to renters who are transferring large amounts of money in deposit and first rent payments.
Co-founder of www.rentprofile.co, David Munday was inspired to setup the site with his brother, Paul, after being a victim of a scam himself.
He commented: “The landlord seemed a professional guy, well spoken. He showed me around the flat, had a tenancy agreement and said a bank transfer was fine. A friend and I transferred him £1,000 later that evening.
“On the day we were supposed to move in, he texted to ask for another one month’s rent and it was at this point I got nervous. After not agreeing to this his phone stopped working and I realised this was a scam.
“We reported what happened to the local police and were informed there were other victims of the same ex-council tenant who had kept the key to the property. It was this experience that led me and my brother to look into these scams further.”
The new website works by allowing landlords to sign up and be added to a directory, which is then searchable by renters. Renters can search by mobile, rental address or the unique landlord reference that RentProfile assigns to a landlord. If when a renter searches there is no record of a particular landlord there is an option to request a landlord check report for a £9 fee.
RentProfile's landlord verification includes identity, rental property ownership, history of housing prosecutions and reports from other renters.
Landlords who sign up benefit from being alerted when somebody attempts to impersonate them or when a property is being advertised without their consent.
Betsy Dillner, director of Generation Rent, said: “Renters have very little ability to find out anything about their landlord before handing over the first month's rent – if they're welcoming, responsible, lazy – or even an actual criminal. This site brings together huge amounts of data in one place and will help renters to build up a better picture of who owns our homes.”
Andrew Goodacre, CEO of the Residential Landlords Association (RLA), added: “Rental scams by non-landlords have been a problem in the sector for a long time, impacting not just tenants but landlords as well. We support RentProfile's work which has the potential to change the industry for the better.”