OH MY! Mr Tenant – What big teeth you have! …
We have all heard the story of Little Red Riding Hood; the “Big Bad Wolf” who ate Red Riding Hood’s Grandmother and then disguised itself as her to catch and eat the little girl. Well, a leading independent estate and lettings agency group in Essex have recently warned that landlords are directly at risk to identity fraud – considering it has been steadily rising over the last few years. And with 4 million victims in the UK alone; LRS is extremely worried that landlords are at risk of becoming Little Red Riding Hood, with no Lumberjack in sight to save them.
Recent data reveals that the UK’s hotspot for identity fraud is in East Ham in London, with about 7 times more attempts than the national average. Identity fraud is also rife in Romford, Bexleyheath, Woolwich, Cheapside, Stratford, Illford, Walthamstow, Lewisham and Enfield. And according to Experian’s June 2013 statistics, outside of London, the worst location for identity fraud is in Altrincham in Cheshire – with 13 fraud attempts for every 10,000 adults; more than 3 times the national average.
At Landlord Referencing Services we hear from hundreds of landlords on a weekly basis that have been swindled out of their rental income.
Extreme examples of this kind of fraud include:
- A tenant being jailed after pocketing £90,000 for selling his landlord’s house; http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/387790/Conman-tenant-jailed-for-selling-landlord-s-house-on-the-internet
- Tenants stealing the identity of their landlord and running up debt in their name; http://www.landlordreferencing.co.uk/forum/discuss/community-forum/warning-landlords-about-the-tenant-who-stole-my-identity-re-nationaldw220513/
- Tenants subletting their landlords property to criminals ; http://www.landlordreferencing.co.uk/blog/2013/09/24/subletting-burglars-jailed-after-50k-raids/
- Con-artist tenants running dodgy businesses from their rented accommodation ; http://www.landlordreferencing.co.uk/blog/666-the-number-of-the-beast-lrs-halloween-exclusive-terrifyingtenanttales/
- Tenants posing as landlords on letting portals such as Gumtree ; http://www.landlordreferencing.co.uk/blog/warning-increasing-number-of-fake-landlords-operating-on-gumtree/
Interestingly, the most common thing we hear from landlords is about tenants in receipt of housing benefit not passing that money onto their landlord, and simply pocketing the cash for other means.
At LRS our community do not understand how the government can take an incredibly good stance on benefit fraud that affects us all (http://www.landlordreferencing.co.uk/blog/benefit-cheats-now-fraudsters-unless-yourre-a-landlord/) but once in receipt of this money, which is paid for something specific, can then be spent on lifestyle and luxury without any further recourse from either their government or their landlord…?
If the government is to change this kind of practice to fraud it has to be seen, as “fraud is an intentional deception made for personal gain or to damage another individual”, that a tenant who takes their LHA money and spends it on anything other than the rent; that they have committed fraud in the first degree.
Until that day comes, Landlords and Letting Agents can protect themselves from this type of tenant by simply carrying out thorough Credit & Identity Checks as well as taking out Rent Guarantee Insurance. But the most important thing a Landlord can do is to get in contact with the tenants previous landlord(s). This will enable them to obtain a fair and honest reference regarding the tenants “lifestyle” habits, as well as their rental payment history and any previous property damages that they have incurred.
Rogue tenants like this are pro’s at providing authentic looking passports and other documents – and can be extremely difficult to evict. Therefore the best way to avoid them is to prevent them from accessing the property in the first place.
“Prevention is better than cure” @ LandlordReferencing.co.uk – where the market can be fair for both landlord and tenants.
Luckily Red Riding Hood & her Grandmother were saved in time by a Lumberjack – So why not let LandlordReferencing.co.uk become your Lumberjack? – Before you and your property are devoured by wolves!