Unfortunately, not everyone is honest and trustworthy. There are plenty of rogues and scammers out there too, and even the most impressive of potential tenants can end up causing huge problems for property owners and agents.
Working out who you can trust has always been a challenge for landlords, and the issue of fake tenant references has compounded the issue further.
While the majority of tenants will pay their rent and respect the properties they live in, nightmare tenants are a big concern in the UK. And unfortunately, technology has a lot to do with it. “It’s now easier than ever for people to falsify documents and send them off using apps on their smartphones” warns Assetgrove, Rent Guaranteed Specialists “and those in the know are doing exactly that with tenant references.”
In the Channel 5 programme Bad Tenants, Rogue Landlords a London landlord rented one of his properties through what he thought was an official company let; a business paying for a professional member of staff to live in the house. All the reference checks were passed with flying colours, so the tenant was able to move in quickly. Unfortunately when the landlord visited the next day, it quickly became clear that the tenant did not know anything about the company and refused to give him access to the property. The first month of rent had been paid for up front, but then no further payments were received, leading to a lengthy and costly legal battle.
Cases such as the one presented in the programme are becoming increasingly common in the UK, particularly in London. What seems like a quick and easy transaction, backed up by a legitimate employer who can allegedly guarantee rent, soon becomes a nightmare that landlords often find it difficult to recover from.
It’s not uncommon for passports to be falsified, fake references to be provided and even pay slips and bank statements to be completely fabricated. All it takes is a computer, Photoshop and a bit of creativity.
It’s absolutely essential that landlords and agents never take anything for granted. Even if a reference looks genuine, it’s important to dig further and make some calls. Go online to check the company details. If they’re the sort of company that employs professionals and homes them in the city, they should have an HR department you can talk to, or at least clear director information and accounts that can be viewed on the Companies House website.
Andrew Reeves warned, “While we’re not suggesting in any way that all tenants and employers are untrustworthy – the vast majority are genuine – you should never take chances. Scammers are out there, so it’s important to protect yourself from any threats and look out for common tell-tale signs.”
Plaza Estates continued, “Unless the company claiming to have a tenant employee is already known to you, you should always do due diligence and further checks to ensure they’re genuine. If something doesn’t feel quite right, it’s important to go with your gut and keep digging. If you can’t get all the answers you need, find another tenant.”