Identity fraud has been on a steady increase over the last few years, partly due to the credit crunch, which has made it harder for people to gain access to credit in their own name, making some people resort to ID theft as a way to obtain goods and services, including residential tenancies.
Anecdotal evidence from across the UK shows a rising number of deliberate fraud cases involving tenants. Applicants fill out tenancy application forms fraudulently as they move from property to property, with no intention of keeping up with the rent. It is not unknown for this to happen within the same small town.
One firm of letting agents recently reported that a tenant had rented over 10 flats in the area in different apartment blocks at the same time using stolen identity, in order to procure the identities of other occupants of each block. The police are investigating the case.
Fraudulent tenants often give false information on where they have been living previously to throw referencing companies and letting agents off the trail. They are also very difficult to evict as they seem to know their way round the legal system.
Michael Portman, Managing Director of Let Insurance Services commented: “Tenant fraud is a continuing problem for agents and landlords alike. And there is no sign of it easing in 2012, so it is essential that agents have a checklist for new tenants, which includes obtaining ID documents and proof of current residency at an early stage of the tenancy application. Agents need to be alert for anything unusual that could increase the risk for the landlord.”
“We provide a referencing service that includes a Potential for Fraud Indicator and if there are any doubts, agents can talk through applications with Let Insurance Services staff. They are removed from personal contact with the prospective tenant and can help spot anomalies, oddities and the potential for fraud in tenancy applications.”