In recent years, the rental market has grown, as more and more people find it impossible to step on to the property ladder and others have run into difficulties with mortgage payments due to the worst recession that most of us have ever experienced, among many other reasons.
And with the rental boom, “scam landlords” have emerged in greater numbers than existed previously. This means that you have to be especially vigilant in terms of who you rent a property from because although it might be tempting to take a property, in an ideal location, offered by a guy you met in the pub as he is offering it to you at such a low rent, you can be certain that there will be something wrong 99.9% of the time.
Scam “landlord” jailed for 2 years
It is not just the man in the pub you should be wary of either. There have been some pretty sophisticated rental scams in the past year that have led to many prospective tenants losing thousands of pounds in rental deposits. For example, earlier this year a number of prospective tenants responded to advertisements for properties to let on Gumtree. They were placed by 42 year old Fazool Gajraj who had rented office space in London in order to carry out his scams. Several prospective tenants were taken to view luxurious properties in Canary Wharf and Enfield, North London, signed tenancy agreements and handed over deposits. When they were given the keys, they either didn’t fit the properties or after they had moved in the real landlords/owners arrived to tell them to move. Gajraj didn’t own any of the properties and had no right to rent them out. He was sentenced to two years in prison.
Rental scams with council houses
In other rental scams, tenants have found themselves in council houses, when the real tenant was not allowed to sublet and didn’t live at the property. Whilst the real tenant is prosecuted for this type of offence, the likelihood of you getting your money back is very remote.
Still other cases have emerged this year where tenants have parted with deposits, got to the property and found that the keys didn’t fit; and then when trying to get back in touch with the person who rented the property to them, found that the mobile telephone number they had been given didn’t work. The “landlord” had simply disappeared with their money.
Reputable letting agents
The best way to ensure that you do not become involved in a rental scam is to use the services of reputable letting agents who belong to a recognised association such as ARLA (Association of Residential Letting Agents). These agents operate within a strict code of practice, as do the letting agents featured on TTV. You have worked hard for your money so don’t risk losing it by dealing with anyone other than a professional when renting a property.