Housing Benefit Fraud Central Housing Group

Referencing fraud getting more common and sophisticated, claims TV show star

Paul Shamplina of Landlord Action says case revealed during last night’s ‘Nightmare Tenants’ show illustrates huge problems facing landlords and letting agents.

A tenant who tricked a third-party referencing company used by a letting agent into believing she earned £54,000 a year has ended up costing the landlord involved £10,000 in lost rent and eviction costs, it has been revealed.

Although not that unusual, eviction specialist Paul Shamplina says the case featured in last night’s episode of Channel 5 show ‘Nightmare Tenants, Slum Landlords’ is a good example of the increasing sophistication and frequency of rent fraud.

It also highlights the increasing number of holes in the referencing system, gaps which several letting agents have been warning recently are getting wider following the tenant fees ban.

The case of widowed pensioner and landlord Marilyn Hunter (picture, above) featured in the programme told the ten-month long and harrowing story of her fight to evict a tenant from her rented house in Godstone, Surrey.

The tenant had fallen behind with the rent, was subletting rooms in the house and, it later transpired, had used sophisticated techniques to pass referencing.

This included registering fake businesses at Companies House which listed the tenant as a director.

“Sometimes landlords think they have taken all the necessary precautions but still end up in a difficult situation,” says Shamplina(left).

“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 grill down any information which does not appear to stack up.”

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