21 Nov 2022
A lettings platform claims that as many as one in 20 rental properties may be let to criminals – that’s some 280,000 homes across the UK.
“For landlords, letting agents, and management companies, it can be difficult to say with absolute confidence that they are not unwittingly enabling criminals to occupy their rental properties” says a spokesperson for the Ocasa platform.
The company is warning agents to be vigilant against fake financial documents, identity fraud and illegal subletting, and to look out for obvious red flags such as defaulting on rent and requesting money wire transfers.
“Wire transfers are a common way for criminals to try to defraud landlords and property managers. A red flag is when a cheque is issued and given to the landlord for more money than has been requested. The fraudster will then ask for the excess money to be returned to them before the whole cheque bounces, by which time the tenant has made their money and probably disappeared.”
Ocasa says agents should act swiftly, follow appropriate protocols and keep detailed records should they identify a ‘dodgy’ property.
“While it might be galling to have to follow the strict eviction protocols when your tenant themselves is a criminal, it’s important you do. This means serving them with a Section 8 notice as you would any other rogue tenant. You can then follow this up with a possession order.
“Make a note of the date and time of every phone call or correspondence along with what was said and who said it. Keep track of all efforts you’ve made to reach out for help, and make note of exactly what you think the tenant is doing wrong.”
The rental platform calculates that the total value of these ‘illegal’ homes could be in excess of £80 billion UK-wide.
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