NLA gives statement warning student tenants to avoid rogue landlords that ask for online payments for fake properties.
Every year, September represents the time for many landlords in the UK to have a new batch of student tenants in their properties, as the new university year commences. Every year, the NLA receives a wide variety of complaints from student tenants complaining about fraudsters who have been scammed into paying fees for fake properties.
These ‘scamlords’ use methods such as NLA branding and fake letters in order to create an appearance of legitimacy to the students. Students present an easy target to these scam artists, as almost all student tenants lack any prior experience with landlords and the property before they enrol at university.
NLA findings have shown that these con artists tend to go for foreign students. Not only are they generally less knowledgeable about the property market in a foreign country and speak the language at a lower level but, most importantly, they tend to secure properties online in preparation for their arrival.
Once the student has paid the fake deposit to the landlord, they disappear and become uncontactable. It is highly unlikely that this money can be retrieved for the defrauded student. Nonetheless, any student that has fallen victim to a ‘scamlord’ should contact the relevant authority, which in the UK is Action Fraud.
Student tenants should not make any payments before they have corresponded with the landlord and can be certain that they are legitimate.
As a result, the NLA have recommended that students should be careful when dealing with any landlords that demand payment online and before the property has been viewed. Students should make extra effort to check the legitimacy of the website via review sites and social media. No payments should be made until the tenants have corresponded with the landlords and can be absolutely certain without doubt that they are legitimate.
The NLA recommends that tenants contact them directly if they have any doubts about a landlord. All legitimate landlords should have a membership number which verifies them on this link: www.landlords.org.uk/member-verification.
Student tenants should also be wary of being charged maintenance costs from thei r deposits. Student complaints are widespread in losing their deposits unfairly, and as a such they should respond by taking dated photos of everything in the property and keeping a list of the landlord’s inventory. This gives them more leverage if accused, and subsequently fined, for damaging/breaking items that were already damaged/broken.