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UK lettings sector urged to be aware of a rise in fraudulent tenants

Let Insurance Services is warning that applicants fill out tenancy application forms fraudulently as they move from property to property, with no intention of keeping up with the rent. It is not unknown for this to happen within the same small town.
Fraudulent tenants often give false information on where they have been living previously to throw referencing companies and letting agents off the trail. They are very difficult to evict as they seem to know their way round the legal system.
‘Tenant fraud is a growing problem for agents and landlords alike. And there is no sign of it easing in 2012, so it is essential that agents have a checklist for new tenants that includes obtaining ID documents and proof of current residency at an early stage of the tenancy application. Agents need to be alert for anything unusual that could increase the risk for the landlord,’ said Michael Portman, managing director of Let Insurance Services.
 ‘We provide a referencing service that includes a Potential for Fraud Indicator and, if there are any doubts, agents can talk through applications with Let Insurance Services staff. They are removed from personal contact with the prospective tenant and are trained to spot anomalies, oddities and the potential for fraud in tenancy applications,’ he added.
The company also has a number of tips for landlords and letting agents that will help reduce fraud. It urges everyone to obtain a credit check as individuals with good credit histories are generally good tenants.

It also suggest getting references from employers and points out that references from previous landlords might need to be taken with a pinch of salt as some landlords just want to get rid of their problem tenants and will therefore give good references. Also needed are copies of payslips and bank statements and it suggests not taking everything at face value.

Other useful tips include comparing addresses shown on the application with those shown on ID documents, using common sense and gut instinct and looking at what kind of car a prospective tenant drives.

It also reckons landlords should beware of subletting when the tenants have moved in. Make sure that when you carry out your periodic property maintenance checks that the occupier is the same name on the tenancy agreement. There are horror stories of seemingly good tenants not moving in and subletting the property for profit.