A companion series to Channel 5’s “Nightmare Tenants, Slum Landlords”, the latest series of “Bad Tenants, Rogue Landlords” delves into the problems that can surround private renting, and brings to light the issue of fake tenant references.
Presenting some of the worst cases of nightmare Tenants who leave houses in terrible conditions and don’t pay rent, and landlords who let out uninhabitable properties, the programmes aired on Channel 5 arguably do not accurately portray the private rented sector in the UK.
The vast majority of landlords work hard to ensure their properties are fit for habitation, carry out maintenance and repairs and do not break the law, while most tenants who have passed their reference checks keep up with rental payments and uphold their side of the tenancy agreement.
However, one issue the programme does bring to light is the danger of fake tenant references, which eviction specialist and founder of Landlord Action Paul Shamplina believes is becoming more of a risk as technology evolves.
“With such rapid advances in technology, falsifying documents via apps on smartphones is easier than ever,” said Shamplina.
Falsified documents from tenants
In the Channel 5 programme, landlord Paul Bloom rented out one of his London properties through a letting agent to what he and the agent believed was a company let – meaning a business was paying for an employee to live in the property. The reference checks were all successful, and the tenant moved in.
However, when Bloom visited the property to check the boiler the next day, he found that the tenant did not seem to know anything about the company he supposedly worked for, and Bloom struggled to gain access to the property.
While the first month’s rent was paid for, no more payments were received from the tenant – or the tenant’s alleged employer – and Bloom realised that the company was not legitimate and had to fight to regain possession of his property.
What can landlords do to prevent this?
Commenting on this case, Paul Shamplina said that company lets such as this one were common in London and are obviously appealing to landlords as it seems more legitimate and secure. However, it is vital to be just as careful when checking out the references.
Shamplina said: “Unless the company wishing to take on the tenancy is a recognised name, those responsible for arranging the referencing should request company registration details, ensure the company is still trading and request details of the employees who will be occupying the property.
“My advice is to take the time to call the employer and if something doesn’t feel right, dig deeper and always trust your gut instinct.”
Landlord Action, which helped Bloom deal with the case, found that another landlord in London had also been targeted by the same fake company, and even passports had been falsified.
Paul Bloom commented: “Professional rogues are so aware of how to get around every measure put in place to protect landlords. I’ve learnt a valuable lesson and will certainly be doing all I can to cross-reference my tenants in future, and where possible meet tenants before they move in.”
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