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Avoiding Rent Dodgers

Landlords Tips to Avoiding Rent Dodgers

Landlords taking on new tenants should be warned about not being caught out by professional rent dodgers, according to a director of a leading specialist repossession company Landlord Action.

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Paul Shamplina, Director of Landlord Action is well aware of these serial non payers, “they are often in cahoots with other people who help them produce false references and they normally have one good bank account which shows regular money going in. I would always advise landlords to get sight of at least 3 most current months bank statements, giving proof of a regular salary being paid, what date it is paid, other living expenses and, more importantly, evidence that they have been regularly and currently paying their rent.”

Lucia Amati became one such victim in January 2008 when she let her London flat. The tenant paid the first month’s rent, then nothing, something which Ms Amati later learned was a regular pattern for this particular tenant. Ms Amati had been the perfect landlord in that first month, arranging for work to be carried out at her tenant’s request. However, this was to be the only time either she or her agent had contact with him who, when he was challenged about not payment, claimed not to be the tenant at all, but his twin brother and also cited identity theft as a reason for not paying. After two months, Ms Amati’s agent contact Landlord Action, a tenant eviction service who has successfully evicted 13,000 rogue tenants in the past 10 years.

Landlord Action set about the process of court proceedings, however, the tenant knew exactly how the system worked and neither paid up or left. He eventually left the day before the eviction date, eight months after he had moved in, owing £6,000 in arrears and costs of £350.00.

He had already arranged a further tenancy to start on this date and, true to form, he paid the first month’s rent then, again, nothing. The landlord of this rental property, who asked not to be named, was left feeling appalled and powerless to make an immediate eviction of a tenant who had no intention of paying the rent, commenting, “this tenant has, in essence, been stealing from me for the past 6 months, causing me considerable emotional stress and financial difficulties with my mortgage whilst, I, as a law abiding citizen, follow the frustratingly long tenant eviction process.

I am saddened to know that serial fraudsters such as this can brazenly continue to use and abuse the system without care for the effect it has on landlords, their families or their agents”. Once again, the tenant left the day before the set eviction date, owing £6,400.00 in arrears and costs of £608.25.

How do Iandords get their rental property back?

Shamplina comments, “under current data protection laws there is no bad tenant register, although private companies such as Landlord Action do hold their own list of rogue tenants. Although you can get a register of people with CCJ’s, unless a landlord has taken possession action in the past and actually enforced a money order, these don’t get registered at all, leaving people such as this tenant free to rent again.”

How do I avoid being scammed?

Chris Horne Editor of leading landlord website Property Hawk advises landlords that they need to ensure that they carry out proper referencing of their tenants before letting.

Tenant references – £9.99

This involves getting at least a basic credit check carried out on the tenant to ensure that they do not have a series of bad debts.

“One very good tip on avoiding dodgy tenants is getting tenants to provide 3 months worth of their bank statements. This will provide a landlord with the way that the prospective tenant conducts their finances and show up any potential problems.”

“If they object to providing them then this is probably a good indication that they have something to hide!”

Landlord Action’s top ten tips – for avoiding professional tenant scammers

1) Ask tenant for at least three months bank statements.
2) Ask their employer how long they have worked for them.
3) Use a credit referencing service.
4) Seek information, utility bills of tenant.
5) Speak to previous landlords.
6) Obtain a copy of the tenant’s passport.
7) Obtain the tenant’s National Insurance number.
8) Secure a guarantor (for example, a parent).
9) If you use a Management Agent find out about the company.
10) Ask to speak to some of their previous landlords.

Tenant references – £9.99

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