As a landlord, it is essential to be vigilant when it comes to verifying the identity of your tenants. If you have any reasonable suspicion that documents presented to you are not genuine, you should decline the lease, no matter how desperate you are to get someone into your property. It is a crime to evict a person from residential accommodation without a court order or to harass them to leave. Keep in mind that this doesn't apply to “squatters” who have broken into a property. If you want to report fraud, you can do so anonymously, if you prefer.
All information will be treated with the strictest confidentiality. You must also provide your tenants with the “How to Rent” brochure, which describes their rights and obligations in accordance with UK legislation. Making referrals can give you peace of mind knowing that you can rent it to a suitable tenant who can pay the rent. You can ask for documents issued by the government, such as a driver's license or passport, to confirm their identity. If a potential tenant offers to pay more than the requested rent or requests a discount in exchange for paying in cash, this should be a warning sign.
You want to have a good relationship so that they pay on time, treat the place well and adapt to the property, while still fulfilling your responsibilities as an owner. According to a reference provider for tenants, between February and March of this year, there was a 153 percent increase in the number of fraudulent tenancy applications. If you suspect fraud and take action against it, the tenant may have the right to sue you for compensation and would need to seek legal advice from a lawyer, a law center, or a CAB to establish their rights. Given the prevalence of tenant scams in Canada, it's essential for landlords to have systems in place to detect them. On a GB News show, it was mentioned that “landlords want to make the best-informed decision when it comes to a tenant who wants to rent their property”. With an eviction ban across Scotland for more than a year, tenants were able to live rent-free for several months until they were finally evicted this summer. However, landlords should not be discouraged from renting out their properties.
There has never been such a difficult time for the private rental sector (PRS), as demand has skyrocketed and stocks are increasingly scarce. Renters are struggling to find a place to live and landlords should take advantage of this opportunity by being extra vigilant when it comes to verifying documents and identities. To protect yourself from tenant fraud, there are several steps you can take:
- Always ask for government-issued documents such as driver's license or passport.
- Be wary of tenants offering more than the requested rent or requesting discounts in exchange for cash payments.
- Provide your tenants with the “How To Rent” brochure.
- Make referrals if necessary.
- Report any suspicious activity anonymously.