Tenants warned of renting scam

Telford & Wrekin Council has issued a warning to tenants who are looking for a home to rent, of a scam that tries to trick them out of money, just to view a property.

The scam begins with an advertisement for a home to rent. The properties advertised are real, but in the fake ads they do not belong to the person advertising them.

The scammers even replicate real social media accounts to try to make the advertisements seem genuine.

Any interested prospective tenants who reply to the ads are told that the owner is away through work or travelling, that the property can be viewed from the outside only, but they can have the keys to look inside if they pay a deposit.

Cllr David Wright, Telford & Wrekin Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing, said: "Never pay a deposit to someone you’ve never met just to view a home. You will not get your money back. Scammers are taking advantage of peoples’ need to quickly find a home by advertising ones that are not theirs to rent, then taking money in the form of a deposit that never gets returned. 

"Some of these scammers may try to ask you to send photos via social media of your identifying documents such as your passport, drivers licence or bank cards. My advice is to never send personal details in this way.

"There are good landlords and letting agents in the borough and many of them are accredited in a scheme such as ours where they agree to abide by a code of conduct. 

"There is also going to be a new law in place from 1 June banning landlords and letting agents from charging tenants extra fees. It means that tenants won’t have to pay for things like tenancy agreements or administration. 

"So, be wary of any message asking you to pay, just to see a home.”

A full list of members of Telford & Wrekin Council’s landlord accreditation scheme can be found here:

Sandra Towers, Midlands representative of the National Landlords Association added: "Rental fraud is one of the uglier aspects of private renting. Tenants, no matter where they are from, should not send payment to advertisers before they are certain it is genuine.

"If you receive official correspondence from a ‘landlord’ and are worried it might be a scam, often a good clue is that it will be written in poor English. Tenants should also remember they can check if a landlord is an NLA member or accredited by visiting www.landlords.org.uk/member-verification 

 "Any tenant that falls victim to such a scam should contact the relevant authorities in their own country and alert the police in the UK via www.actionfraud.police.uk.”

Date: 24 May 2019 | Source: Telford Council

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