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How to avoid rental scams as a tenant

07-April-2022 14:49
in General
by Admin

Unfortunately, rental scams can be fairly commonplace within the UK housing market. There are several reasons why this is, but the main leading factor is that most of the transaction is done online nowadays, allowing room for malpractice and fraudulent activity. 

There are a few key factors to look out for when considering your next move, take a look at the list below to see if you have ever fallen for any of these before. 

The price seems too low

If you have done your homework and looked at listings in the local area, and have started to understand the standard prices when one is listed at a much lower price this can raise red flags. Obviously, a landlord would want a fair price for a fair living standard, if the price is too low then something could be afoot. 

This sort of tactic has been previously used to get lots of people interested before asking for an up-front deposit for the property. Once a deposit is made, the listing disappears along with your money. 

The listing has errors 

This is a basic aspect that quite a few people overlook. In the listing, if there are spelling mistakes, grammatical issues, odd lexical choices, and weird turns of phrases that don’t quite fit the standard, avoid them at all costs. 

The same goes if the listing is missing some key information, does it say 1 bathroom then have pictures of two separate bathrooms? If the pictures don’t match the description, it is a no-go. 

There’s no screening process

Is the landlord a bit too keen on taking your money without checking who you are? Genuine landlords and professional lettings agents will have a screening process in place to make sure that you are a genuine renter. If you are not asked for a rental application or credit check, do not go any further. 

Not seeing the property first

This seems a little on the nose, but a surprising amount of people will go through with a financial decision without seeing the property that they are renting. You absolutely have the right to see a property that you are going to live in. There are no excuses as to why a viewing would not be available. 

There's no contractual lease agreement

Word of mouth is not a contractual agreement. An email chain is not a contractual agreement. Always insist on a lease. Take your time and read through it. Fully understand the contract you are signing. 

What do you do if you have been a victim of rental fraud?

If you have had any money stolen from you fraudulently, there are two things you must do immediately. You must call the police on a non-emergency number (101), after this has been done, you should then report the crime to Action Fraud

Make sure that you have saved any emails, texts, or communications that you have had with the landlord. Collate your evidence to ensure you have a strong case, and you may be able to get your money back. 

Tell any Lettings Agency mentioned

Some scammers will use a real Lettings Agency as a front, copying their paperwork, and mimicking their identity. If this is the case, ensure that the real agency has been notified that their identity has been used to commit fraud. They would take this issue very seriously, as they would want to manage their reputation and ensure it is not tarnished any further by the fraudster. 

At S J Smith, We pride ourselves on our high levels of client care. So, if you are looking to rent in the Staines or Ashford area, our friendly team will be happy to help. 

You can view our current listings here