Warning to landlords and letting agents over fake referencing

Warning to landlords and letting agents over fake referencing

This week’s episode of “Bad Tenants, Rogue Landlords” (Thursday 19th April, Channel 5, 8pm) will serve as a warning to all landlords and letting agents over the dangers of fake tenant references, as landlord Paul Bloom faces a struggle to get his property back from a bogus company let.

Paul Bloom, a professional landlord with several properties in London, let one of his flats in a quiet part of Hampstead, London. The letting agent he used was approached by a third party wishing to rent the property as a company let. After passing referencing, it was understood that an employee of the travel company MSalliance Ltd would occupy the property.

However, only the day after the tenant moved in, he asked Mr Bloom to visit the property because he thought something was wrong with the boiler. Upon arrival, Paul had trouble accessing the property, the tenant didn’t speak very good English and didn’t seem to know anything about the company he was supposed to work for. Paul realised that something was not right.

The tenants only paid the first month’s rent and then payments stopped. When neighbours started to complain about noise and anti-social behaviour, it quickly came to light that this was not a legitimate company let and Paul was going to face a tough battle with his violent tenant to regain possession of his property.

With such rapid advances in technology, falsifying documents via apps on smartphones is easier than ever. Paul Shamplina, founder of Landlord Action says that cases where traditional referencing has fallen short of the innovation required to spot these crooks is becoming increasingly common.

He comments: “Company lets are not unusual in London and many landlords like the idea of a professional organisation taking on the tenancy agreement because, in theory, it offers greater security and guaranteed rent. In reality, the same risks as renting to an individual tenant apply. Unless the company wishing to take on the tenancy is a recognised name, those responsible for arranging the referencing should request company registration details, ensure the company is still trading and request details of the employees who will be occupying the property.

My advice is to take the time to call the employer and if something doesn’t feel right, dig deeper and always trust your gut instinct. You’ll see in this particularly eventful episode, just what can happen when things go wrong.”

After instructing Landlord Action, the scale of the problem became evident, as they had also been instructed by another landlord with tenants claiming to work for the same company. Even passports had been falsified.

The landlord, Paul Bloom said “I work in music and come across a lot of colourful characters, but it doesn’t come close to how people seem to be able to work the system in the property industry. Professional rogues are so aware of how to get around every measure put in place to protect landlords. I’ve learnt a valuable lesson and will certainly be doing all I can to cross-reference my tenants in future, and where possible meet tenants before they move in.”

Watch “Bad Tenants Rogue Landlords” on Thursday 19th April, at 8pm on Channel 5.

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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