Fraudsters who target high-end properties because they know long lead times for evictions will protect them when they stop paying the rent is a growing problem, a leading property trade body has claimed.
ARLA Propertymark, which represents lettings agents across the UK, says it is investigating the problem which sophisticated tech is making harder and hard to spot.
This includes the faking of documents such as bank statements, inco e tax returns, credit check documentation, references and payslips using widely-available and easy-to-use image manipulation software.
A typical example is multi-branch firm Tay Lettings in Scotland which says it was duped by a sophisticated scammer who began a tenancy in a prime property but, after Scotland brought in an evictions ban, was able to stay for a year without paying rent racking up arrears of some £60,000.
Lorna Taylor (pictured), a director at Tay Letting says: “To guard against these fraudulent applicants, we now send all applications to an independent referencing agency as a matter of course to verify as far as possible that the information we have received is legitimate.”
Propertymark says it is working to ensure that all governments across the UK are aware of this issue and to make sure that landlords can easily recover their properties where it has been established to have been let under a fraudulent tenant application.
Its CEO, Nathan Emerson (pictured), warns: “Fraudulent tenants who are acquiring often high-end properties fully knowing they cannot afford them is a growing problem which needs immediate attention.
“With the increase in cases and the sophisticated ways these people are producing falsified documents, agents can be completely unaware of this fraudulent activity until faced with the devastating consequences. “Agents should remain vigilant and do all they can to weed out the criminals from the law-abiding tenants.”