With rising house prices and dormant wages, one out of every four households in the UK is expected to rent privately by the end of 2021. This is nearly double what the current rate is now and will create a competitive rental market. However, with competition also comes scams. Scammers will take advantage of this critical market and attempt to make as much money as they can off unsuspecting landlords. To protect yourself in the changing market, check out the following rental scam tips.
Conning Your Property as Their Own
A study from HSBC found that the UK is leading the way for online property searches across the world. With 93 per cent of prospective homebuyers reporting that they used the internet to find a home, scammers now have access to an easily manipulative source. These scammers are borrowing addresses and photos from vacant homes that are on sale somewhere online and using it to create their own ad. This causes confusion for you as a landlord and also makes your rental property unmarketable as many people will flag it as a fake rental ad. Therefore, you should be sure to post a watermark on your photos with your rental company or name. This will help keep your photos to your site. Also, be sure to constantly search on sites such as Craiglist for your address or images. You can even do a reverse Google image search to see if your photo has been posted anywhere else. If you do find a post that is not yours, you can flag it on the site as a scam.
Avoid Being Scammed by Fraudulent Documents
Squatters have been identified by the government as someone that deliberately enters a property and lives there without permission of the property’s owners. However, what happens if you, as the owner, actually gives permission to someone that won’t pay rent or vacate the premises? One popular tenant scam in the UK involves a potential renter providing fraudulent documents about their credit history, landlord recommendation letters, or their name. These scammers provide you with perfect credit and rental history and make you believe that they will be a great tenant. However, when you hand them the keys and they move in, they are unable to pay rent or their checks constantly bounce. Since you already gave them permission to live there, it can be a hard and lengthy process to move them out. Therefore, you should always conduct your own credit check on your tenants. Also, be sure to call landlords that people provide as references or even meet these people in person. You can also do a quick Google check to ensure these references are actually landlords rather than a colleague or family member of the potential tenant. You should always do your research about any potential renters and never hand anyone the keys without first collecting some kind of payment.
The Reverse Mortgage Scam
In the United States, reverse mortgages were set up to help senior citizens afford a lovely home. However, they have become sources for scammers to take advantage of seniors looking to buy an affordable home. This scam has quickly made its way to the UK and is known as equity release mortgage or lifetime mortgage scams. As a residential landlord, it is important to learn about these conmen to prevent it from negatively impacting your business. In these scams, a person may use information from your ad or even one of your vacant properties to advertise as a cheaper, foreclosure property. They will tell potential homeowners that they can help them qualify for an equity release loan, but will ultimately pocket this money. If your home is listed as one of these scams, it can create a negative image for your property and scare away many renters. Therefore, you should be sure to check out rental and homeowner sites geared towards senior citizens as well as Craiglist and the other sites you may be searching. Remember that scammers are getting creative and looking to post your property on places that you may not search, so be thorough and look everywhere.
Rental landlords are entrepreneurs, and just like any entrepreneur, you need to conduct your research. Do as much researching and work as you can to avoid becoming a scammer’s next victim.