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How to Protect Yourself from Bogus Landlords

In
this three-minute read, we explain how renters can avoid getting ripped off by
fake landlords.

Renters
in London should be on their guard against fraudsters
using Covid-19 as a cover to swindle people out of their hard-earned cash.

Rental
fraud is not a new scam – Action Fraud, the UK’s reporting centre for fraud and
cybercrime, has been warning about it for years.

However,
we’re concerned that the increase in property activity being carried out online
due to the pandemic could leave renters more vulnerable to this kind of ruse.

Just
last week, we heard of an attempt at online rental fraud and it’s clear the
scammers are out there, doing their best to rip people off.

What
is rental fraud?

Imagine
this: you’re searching for a new place to live and a property advertised on
social media catches your eye. It looks perfect, and the price is right. Stroke
of luck!

So,
you make contact to arrange a viewing. Great news, the property is available –
but there’s an issue: you can’t view it in person.

You
may be told you can’t visit because:

- The
‘owner’ is out of the country due to work/personal issues/Covid-19. (They may
even throw in a sly dig at Priti Patel’s quarantine rules to seem personable.)

- The
‘owner’ is unwell or isolating due to Covid-19.

At
this point, alarm bells should ring. What usually comes next is a request that
you pay a deposit ASAP to secure the property. The ‘owner’ may suggest that you
meet a ‘friend’ of theirs to exchange a cash deposit for the keys, or they may
ask you to make an electronic transfer.

No
matter how plausible the story seems, don’t hand over a penny.

If
you do, we can pretty much guarantee you will never hear from the ‘owner’
again, never step inside the property you saw advertised (the pictures were
probably ripped off from another rental advert), and never get your money back.

Fraud-busting
tips

Never agree
to rent a property through a website or social media.

Never pay
a deposit to rent a property you have not viewed in person. You must visit the
property and ensure it is a genuine let. You need to be happy with the property
and the terms and conditions of the letting.

Neverpay
to view a property. Agencies and landlords never charge for
viewings.

Never hand
over cash – it’s untraceable and can be used immediately.

Never transfer
funds via Western Union, Moneybookers or other electronic fund transfer
services to someone claiming to be an agent or landlord.

Always establish
that the property exists and that it is available for rent.

Always check
the landlord/agent's identity, and that he/she is authorised to rent the
property.

Always do
your research. Look online to see if the property is on any other rental
platform. If it is with a letting agency, call them and clarify the details. If
you want the property and it is with an agency, then go through them.

Always trust
your instincts. If you’re unsure, walk away.

Always report
scammers to the authorities.

From
all of us here at Holland Properties please stay safe and be vigilant online.

COPYRIGHT Holland Properties 2021

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