In every industry and in every market, you’re always going to get people who take advantage of unsuspecting people. The rental market is no different and there are landlords out there that think it’s okay to rip off unsuspecting tenants. While most landlords do the right thing, there are always a few out there waiting to take advantage of prospective tenants.
In this blog post, we’re going to outline the most common landlord scams in the UK that tenants need to be aware of.
1. Beware Of Receipt Rip-Offs
This is one of the most common landlord scams but also easiest to avoid. With this scam, the landlord will ask the prospective tenant to wire transfer money for the rental deposit to the tenant’s friend or a relative as proof that he or she can afford the deposit. The landlord then asks for proof of receipt and uses the transfer receipt to withdraw the funds themselves.
The easiest way to avoid becoming a victim of this scam is to never accept receipt payments. Always pay your rental deposit with a cheque or bankers’ draft, and that’s it. You can read more here from the Housing Rights about paying tenancy deposits.
2. Renting Without Paying A Tenancy Deposit
This is one of the most common landlord scams for tenants to fall for. What the landlord does in this instance is tell the tenant he or she doesn’t have to pay a tenancy deposit and instead can pay a little extra each month to compensate for not paying a deposit. The promise is always that they’ll get the extra money they paid back at the end of the tenancy if no damage has been caused to the property.
However, this rarely happens and the landlord keeps the extra money that was paid each month to compensate for not paying a deposit. We can see how it’s easy to fall for this scam especially if tenants are short on cash. Regardless, we recommend you always go through the appropriate legal channels for paying a tenancy deposit.
3. Taking Money And Running
This is where con artists will break into an empty property, claim it as their own and take tenants. They’ll take the tenancy deposit and first month’s rent and then bail before the real owners of the property find out. Once the real property owners find out, they’ll then evict the tenants claiming that they’re illegal squatters. This is a real nasty scam and tends to happen to property owners who don’t live in the same city as the property they own or go on long-term holidays.
If you want to ever avoid this scenario from happening to you, then always check who owns a property via the HM Land Registry.
4. Get All Fees You’re Required To Pay In Writing (Tenancy Agreement)
Never rent any property without first signing a tenancy agreement that clearly stipulates everything that you’re responsible for covering financially during the course of your tenancy. This extends to certain utility bills, parts of the property and more. If you don’t do this, you could find yourself dealing with a landlord who decides to lump large debts onto you without actually letting you know.
Then, when it’s time to leave the property, they’ll lump you with a huge bill of debts you need to pay. If you sign a legally valid tenancy agreement then you’ll never have to worry about this happening to you.
“Read the small print. Don’t get pressured or rushed into signing any agreement. Ignore the assurances of landlords that ‘it’s just a formality’ or ‘that clause doesn’t really matter’.”
– Jon Robins, Author of “The Justice Gap: Whatever Happened to Legal Aid?”
5. Not Covering A Tenancy Deposit With A Tenancy Deposit Scheme
Landlords are legally required to put tenancy deposits into a tenancy deposit scheme. The problem is that some landlords won’t do this and then they’ll claim the deposit they received was actually an administrative fee. This becomes very problematic if there is a dispute down the line because the tenant’s deposit is not protected legally via a tenancy deposit scheme.
You can avoid this scam by always making sure that your landlord has put your deposit into an authorised tenancy deposit scheme.
Final Words: Avoid These Common Landlord Scams
These are five of the most common landlord scams experienced by unsuspecting tenants throughout the UK. Be aware of them and make sure everything is handled in accordance with the law by your landlord. Never be afraid to check that your landlord is doing everything by the book.
Have any questions about renting a property in the UK and protecting yourself against common landlord scams? Then let us find you a range of free quotes from qualified lawyers.