The National Landlords Association (NLA) is reminding would-be tenants to be vigilant when looking for somewhere new to live and to avoid getting scammed after being contacted by several people who have been the target of fraudulent activity.
Such scams trick people into paying an advance fee to rent a property and, in these instances, fraudsters have used NLA branding and fake letters from NLA Local Representatives in order to add legitimacy to the scam and lure their victims in to a false sense of security.
Scammers often target those who are coming from abroad and are securing property online. Typically once money has been sent the ‘landlord’ becomes un-contactable leaving the potential tenant defrauded.
The NLA is reissuing guidance about avoiding online rental fraud which was drafted in conjunction with the NUS and the National Crime Agency:
+ Do not send money up front to anyone advertising online, make sure they are genuine first and view the property if you can
+ Beware if you are asked to wire any money via a money transfer service, criminals can use details from the receipt to withdraw money from another location
+ Use government approved deposit schemes such as my|deposits
+ Contact the organisations the landlord claims to be associated with in order to verify their status. Tenants wanting to check whether a prospective landlord is a member of the NLA or accredited should ask them for their membership number, then go to: landlords.org.uk/member-verification
+ Overseas applicants needing to secure accommodation before they arrive in the UK should first seek the help of the employer or university they are coming to.
+ Get paperwork and proof: ask for a copy of the tenancy agreement or safety certificates to confirm that the “landlord” has a genuine legal connection with property.
+ Remember, if the offer is too good to be true, it probably is.
Richard Lambert, CEO of the NLA, commented: “Rental fraud is one of the uglier aspects of private renting. 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 a list of reputable landlords and letting agents.
“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.”