Improving fraud detection is vital for the future of the PRS, says Landlord Action

Improving fraud detection is vital for the future of the PRS, says Landlord Action

On Monday 8 July, Paul Shamplina and his team at Landlord Action will once again appear on Channel 5’s ‘Nightmare Tenants Slum Landlords’, this time highlighting the need for better fraud detection when it comes to referencing. Paul Shamplina says letting agents and referencing companies who invest in technology with the means to validate tenants’ financial means and payment histories will stand to benefit in the future, as landlords look for greater assurances.

The first case introduces pensioner and widow Marilyn Hunter. She thought she had rented out her treasured family home to a ‘house-proud’ mother and daughter, who would look after the property as she would. “I’ve been letting the property for 12 years with very few issues. I have always used a letting agent, as I did in this case, and they use a third-party tenant referencing company. At first, everything seemed to be going well, I had visited the tenants, they were very friendly, and the property was being kept beautifully. Then the rent payment started falling behind” says Marilyn.

Marilyn spoke to the tenant who was very apologetic and brought the payments up to date. Unfortunately, neighbours then suspected there were more people living at the house, which Marilyn found to be true. She again spoke to the tenants and said that due to late payments and dishonesty she would have to ask them to leave but was happy for them to stay until they found somewhere. After a further ten months of late and often incomplete rent payments, and with the tenants becoming increasingly hostile Marilyn contacted Landlord Action. Her daughter was now heavily pregnant and was hoping to move back into the once family home, so it was a race against time.

“The references obtained suggest the tenant earned £54,000 a year, which we now believe was a fraudulent claim. We have since learnt that the tenant has set up several ‘businesses’ registered with companies house, took out a magazine subscription in my name which I’m being asked to pay, and I have received a box full of letters chasing for money. We still receive threatening visits from debt collectors trying to track her down. I am now £10,000 in debt myself as a result and am going to have to try, over time, to reclaim some of the money through attachments of assets.”

Commenting on Marilyn’s case, Paul Shamplina, founder of Landlord Action, said: “Sometimes landlords can think they have taken all the necessary precautions but still end up in a difficult situation. Technology has made it easier for people to falsify documents which is why letting agents and referencing companies need to invest in even smarter technology which improves fraud detection. Landlords should also ask questions, ask to see the full referencing report and take time to grill down any information which does not appear to stack up.”

Following a similar theme, the second case will show landlord Chris Bull from Derbyshire. He rented out his home to a professional couple who seemed to be the perfect tenants. But they soon stopped paying and refused to speak to Chris. Even when Chris confronted them at the home the couple maintained they no longer lived at the property and did not owe any rent. On top of £2000 of rent arrears, Chris also discovered the tenants had somehow transferred all of the utility bills into his name.

Landlord Action was not only drafted in to help evict the tenants but are currently involved in the ongoing debt recovery.

Watch Nightmare Tenants Slum Landlords on Channel 5, Mondays at 9pm.

Precise Treatment Reduces Pain

Detail needs experts. Expert time is worth it when it saves you a costly mistake. Main objective: Get the property back. Best action: Very precise treatment.

Serving a notice is actually the most important part of the possession process.

It isn’t complicated but one tiny error can cause dreadful problems.

That’s why we say, don’t DIY and don’t use internet amateurs. It’s not worth it.

1. Compliance Errors
If the tenant doesn’t leave at Step1, the notice had better be valid. Because then it has to go to court. Any little error can get a case thrown out. And you have to start all over again.

2. Attempting Short-Cuts.
In an effort to be quick, some internet services aimed at landlords are using short-cuts around the process. But if the tenant doesn’t leave (50%) these practices can backfire at court and the case thrown out.

3. Trying to Save Pennies.
Internet services have mushroomed and landlords can expect to get what they pay for. To get the process done PROPERLY it takes a certain amount of time for an expert to look over a file and be accurate. Our fees cover that expert time.

Chasing courts for dates, arranging advocates and preparing court papers is time consuming. Especially if you’ve never done it before.

Some landlord and agents have served notices themselves. They believed they were saving a few pounds but it often ended up costing them more.

If you lose a claim, the court can order you to pay the tenant’s defence cost, which can run to hundreds or thousands of pounds.

Our in-house Solicitors are there to get your property back as fast as they can. And we protect landlords and agents from themselves.

As experts, we know that in the rush to get things done, errors can happen. And those errors can can come back later to mess up your case – and the whole process has to start again.

You can speed things up – give us accurate information quickly. Help us to help you.

There are services on the web who will prepare papers BUT they get you to pay the court-fee separately and get you to sign the court papers – so in fact they don’t represent you!

If your notice (at Step1) wasn’t drafted or served correctly you risk wasting your court fees and losing a whole lot of time because of a small error.

We won’t let your case anywhere near a court until we have checked every little detail. To make sure you don’t waste time or money, at Step-2 we first only charge part of the fee.

If your notice is fine, then you just pay the balance of the fee and we issue the claim. If there is a problem with your notice or paperwork, we will advise you what to do next.

Courts take the view that possession proceedings can make someone homeless. So they are very careful. If there’s any error in the notice, they throw the case out. It’s the process. Get it right or lose.

If the notice is invalid, you have to start all over again. The weeks or months you’ve waited are wasted. If there were rent arrears, there are now more.

If there weren’t rent arrears, they might now start. More fees. More lost rent. And still no possession. Tenants can be alerted to making a counter-claim.

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