Call for greater referencing technology to improve detection of fraud
Eviction expert Paul Shamplina has urged letting agents and referencing companies to invest in technology to improve fraud detection.
The call comes ahead of the latest episode of Channel 5’s ‘Nightmare Tenants Slum Landlords’.
Shamplina says that landlords are increasingly looking for greater assurances in validating tenants’ financial information as cases of fraud become more prevalent.
Tonight’s episode focuses on pensioner and widow Marilyn Hunter who let her family home to two tenants she believed to be a ‘house proud’ mother and daughter.
“Everything seemed to be going well, I had visited the tenants, they were very friendly, and the property was being beautifully kept. Then the rent payments started falling behind,” says Hunter.
At first, the tenant was ‘apologetic’ and brought the payments up to date, the landlord then came to suspect that more people were living in the property.
Hunter eventually asked the tenants to leave due to the late payments and dishonesty, saying that she was happy for them to stay until they found somewhere else to live.
After a further ten months of late and incomplete rent payments, and with the tenants becoming increasingly hostile, Hunter contacted Landlord Action to deal with the eviction.
“The references obtained suggest the tenant earned £54,000 a year, which we now believe was a fraudulent claim,” Hunter explains.
“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 money.”
The landlord says she still receives ‘threatening’ visits from debt collectors and is now £10,000 in debt.
“Sometimes landlords can think they have taken all the necessary precautions but still end up in a difficult situation,” says Shamplina, founder of Landlord Action.
“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 drill down any information which does not appear to stack up,” he says.
Tonight’s episode of Nightmare Tenants Slum Landlords, which airs on Channel 5 at 9pm, features a second case which tells the story of landlord who had to deal with £2,000 of rent arrears.