Referencing platform Homeppl has revealed how a fraudulent tenant in London tried to rent properties from three different letting agents who used its system, highlighting the severe challenges faced by landlords from tech-savvy criminal renters.

The platform says its systems were able to foil the male tenant’s initial attempt in March to rent a property via fake references and documents. It also claims that the sophistication of his efforts would probably have fooled most landlords or letting agents using traditional referencing systems.

The tenant, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, initially approached a letting agent but checks on Companies House revealed his claimed employer was a firm with no turnover.

A bank statement provided proved by him turned out to be a manipulated image and therefore a fake, while email addresses provided had only recently been set up and were only lightly used.

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Also, website addresses for different companies and entities offered as referees were linked digitally to the tenant.

The fraudster then tried to apply for tenancies through two further letting agencies in April and May.

Unfortunately for him, all three agents used Homeppl to reference tenants and his name was flagged by the system and his applications refused – unlike in other examples we have reported on recently.

“This example highlights the lengths that some tenants will go to in order to fraudulently rent a property which once they are in gives them the opportunity to commit further offences including illegally subletting or short letting on Airbnb or just to default on the rent,” says Homeppl founder and CEO Alexander Siedes (pictured).

“Unfortunately, there is no penalty for a fraudulent application, so they will just keep trying.
“And given most tenant referencing is nowhere near as reliable as ours, it makes you wonder where else has he tried and been successful.

Siedes blames ‘sloppy referencing’ by some large referencing companies on the 8% rent default rates within the private rented sector, which he claims his system reduces to zero.

The ultimate guide to tenant referencing – Hamilton Fraser

4 COMMENTS

  1. The vast majority of tenants are very poor risks.
    Few can qualify for RGI.

    LL have no choice than to use extremely robust referencing if they wish to avoid fraudster tenants.

    There is no doubt that providing fraudulent documents should be a criminal offence.

    It does seem that fraudster tenants can get away with their deception.

    I don’t understand why the courts allow this.

    With the TFB LL have to utilise their referencing budget very carefully.

    LL can’t afford to pay referencing costs of all and sundry.

    It is why a Tenant Referencing Passport would have been an excellent idea.

    But the TFB apparently precludes this.

    A great shame this is the case.

    There is no doubt that criminal tenants are targeting LL.

    Taking about 2 years to evict can give a criminal tenant about 2 years of free living costs.

    That could easily amount to £30000 over 2 years.

    You can see why a little bit of tenant fraud is so attractive to them.

    Essentially they use the dysfunctional eviction process as a way to defraud LL of billions every year.

    All they need is a signed AST and they can commit more crime.

    LL should be aware that they are looked upon as mugs by criminal fraudster tenants taking advantage of dysfunctional letting regulations.

    LL must accept they need to be on their guard.

    Robust referencing as supplied by this company is an absolute imperative.

    To end up with a fraudster tenant doesn’t bear thinking about!!

  2. “Unfortunately, there is no penalty for a fraudulent application”
    Rubbish, it is a criminal offence of fraud under the Fraud Act 2006, Section 2 https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2006/35 :
    2 Fraud by false representation
    (1)A person is in breach of this section if he—
    (a)dishonestly makes a false representation, and
    (b)intends, by making the representation—
    (i)to make a gain for himself or another, or
    (ii)to cause loss to another or to expose another to a risk of loss.

    I would suggest that any agent who detects such fraud and does not report it is also guilty of a criminal offence by knowingly not reporting a crime, as well as a moral failure.

    Whether anything comes of it is another matter – but it IS a criminal offence, it can (and should) be reported, and I believe it would then show up in future referencing checks.

  3. Hmmmm. No pricing on their website makes me very suspicious of them. In my experience companies that seem to hide their pricing do so for a reason – because one will not like their prices.

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