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1 Million Victims Of Landlord Scams

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Scumbags

Almost 1 million Britons have been the victim of a scam involving a private tenancy or landlord in the last three years, shocking new research by Shelter shows.

In our online YouGov survey of 2,234 adults, 2% (equivalent to 1 million people nationwide) said they had been the victim of underhand practices when privately renting. Worryingly, 4% of those surveyed knew someone else who had been a victim.

The survey is part of Shelter’s national investigation which aims to expose bad practice by landlords in the private rented sector. Find out more about the investigation

See the most popular scams and get advice on how to prevent them

The survey also found that a fifth (20%) of tenants and one in four landlords have not heard of the Tenancy deposit protection scheme, which was introduced by Government in April 2007. Our investigation shows withheld deposits are a major issue for tenants.

Shelter’s chief executive Campbell Robb said: ‘It is absolutely shocking to think that so many people have fallen victim to these kinds of scams.

‘With more and more people set to become private tenants in the future we believe this is a widespread problem that will create thousands more victims unless we urgently do something about it.

‘Not only is it vital that people who are renting watch out for these kinds of tricks, but the Government must also clamp down hard on rogue operators who are exploiting the system and taking advantage of people’.

Have you been the victim of a scam? Share your story

About the survey

1. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2234 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 10 - 12 August 2010. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

2. 2 per cent of people surveyed said they had fallen victim to a scam when privately renting. This equates to 946,000 (almost one million) people in Britain – 2009 estimates from the Office of National Statistics indicate that there are 47.3 million adults in Great Britain (open Table 2 in the files available).

3. 4.5 per cent of people surveyed said they know someone who has fallen victim to a scam when privately renting. This equates to 2,120,000 adults (over two million) people in Britain – 2009 estimates from the Office of National Statistics indicate that there are 47.3 million adults in Great Britain (open Table 2 in the files available).

4. One in four landlords admitted they were not aware of the TDS (tenancy deposit scheme) in the BDRC Continental, Landlord Panel quarter 4 2009, base: 551 private landlords.

Ho hum. Near-free money and loose terms be-gets scum.

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...some of the scams....

http://england.shelter.org.uk/what_you_can_do/evictroguelandlords/avoid_landlord_scams

Rogue landlords use outrageous scams to dupe unsuspecting tenants. Make sure you are not their next victim!

A con artist will ask for money to be wired via Western Union as a sign of good faith that a tenant is serious about letting a property. The landlord will ask that funds are wired to the tenant’s friend or relative to demonstrate that they can afford the property. The landlord will ask for proof of receipt and will then withdraw the funds using the transfer details.

Never agree to wire money for a deposit, no matter how plausible the story. Most landlords should accept either a cheque or bankers’ draft.

Rogues may suggest that tenants can pay more rent each month instead of a deposit

and that at the end of the tenancy they will receive this extra money back if there are no breakages. This doesn’t happen and the rogues are able to pocket all the additional

money paid.

Although tempting if you’re short of cash, be wary of landlords who suggest these options. Having a properly protected deposit is the only legal way to ensure that your deposit will be handled fairly at the end of your tenancy.

Con artists break into empty properties and then rent them out as their own. Unsuspecting tenants hand over large sums of money as a deposit and rent, at which point the con artists disappears. When the real owners of the property realise what has happened, the tenants are evicted because in the eyes of the law they are squatters.

Never hand over cash until you have been given the landlord’s name and a UK contact address — they are required by law to provide this. You can check who owns the property by searching on the Land Registry website and paying a small fee.

Rogue landlords often charge extortionate amounts for hidden costs not previously discussed, such as fees for a tenancy inspection and then ‘conveniently’ forget to tell tenants about it. This means the tenant has a debt that they may not even be aware of. These debts increase over time and when tenants attempt to leave the property, they are lumbered with a huge bill that they are expected to pay — although they are not legally obliged to.

Ask for written confirmation of exactly what you will have to pay for over the lifetime of the tenancy. Remember you are not liable for a debt if you didn’t agree to it within the tenancy agreement.

Although a legal requirement, some rogue landlords may try to avoid putting tenants’ deposits in a tenancy deposit scheme. This leaves the tenant in an extremely vulnerable position if there is a dispute. Rogue landlords often claim money handed over prior to entering the property was an administrative fee as opposed to a deposit.

Always ask which authorised deposit scheme your landlord will be putting your deposit into.

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Had they all been scammed?

Or was it just that 1 in 4 had not heard of the tenency deposit scheme. (I hadn't)

It always amazes me that Parliament pass laws but don't tell anyone about it. Why not advertise it on TV?

Even the Police are expected to pay for copies of new laws in exactly the same way as everyone else.

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Had they all been scammed?

Or was it just that 1 in 4 had not heard of the tenency deposit scheme. (I hadn't)

It always amazes me that Parliament pass laws but don't tell anyone about it. Why not advertise it on TV?

Even the Police are expected to pay for copies of new laws in exactly the same way as everyone else.

...keeping quiet about the 'legals' is a scammer's charter..... :rolleyes:

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I'm just surprised the numbers aren't higher. Perhaps it is just me - but most landlords seem to have some kind of scam going and practically everyone I know who has rented more than once has been conned somehow (in fact many cite it as a reason for buying an overpriced shoebox):

-Blatant tax/mortage dodges - eg all of Landlords mail still comes to the house, if asked "Landlord" still lives there

-Not getting all of your deposit back (never happened to me but nearly everyone I know who has rented has a tale)

-Pretending not to know the law eg Tenant deposit scheme, giving one months notice instead of two when asking you to move, not giving address or contact number

-Unfair contract terms

-Broken promises on repairs

-Having to pay previous tenants electricity bills

My standard practice now is to be meek and mild when I move in - then once settled make it clear I know the law. Got our entire deposit back within a month of moving into my last place because Landlord didn't want to use a TDS and their "agent" claimed not to know anything about them.

It amazes me how little consumer protection there is around housing - either renting or buying. You have more rights if you buy or rent a car than you do a home. And again it's often the most vulnerable who get conned - because the nastier landlords tend to target that end of the market as they know/hope their victims are ignorant of the law.

Edited by greencat

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I'm just surprised the numbers aren't higher.

They are certainly higher, most problems I am sure never get reported - mostly because there is no one to report it to who gives a stuff.

I would think almost all my friends have some nightmare story from previous LL's. From the tried and trusted retaining the deposits for no good reason to properties that are at best substandard and repairs either never carried out or take months of chasing to arrange.

You are right the lack of regulation in the private rental sector is a major factor that needs looked into but I am sure never will be.

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It's a little bit odd. If the landlord doesn't put your deposit in the protection scheme and won't return it in full afterwards, then you take them to court and you will win. They broke the law and it was their responsibility to know about it. It's that simple. They may also then face legal penalties too, though who bothers to charge them would be up for debate.

The other scams are common place in all business. Selling goods you don't own was common or cars for example. But it's pretty easy to check ownership now, but ownership of a property being rented is a little more difficult. Anyone got ideas as to how you would check that?

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The other scams are common place in all business. Selling goods you don't own was common or cars for example. But it's pretty easy to check ownership now, but ownership of a property being rented is a little more difficult. Anyone got ideas as to how you would check that?

Might be true - but if you go to a proper dealer or nationally known chain - you are pretty likely not to get conned with buying/renting a car. Nothing equivalent exists for renting a house (going with an estate agent is certainly no guarantee).

Again perhaps it is just the places I and others rent - but the scamming the buyer seems very widespread with landlords. Whereas I can't think of anytime I was scammed buying a book or groceries and even eBay purchases have had a lower scam rate.

Edited by greencat

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