Rental fraud takes place when would be tenants are convinced to pay an upfront fee to rent a property.  Research shows that a significant number of people are falling victim to rental fraud after responding to advertisements for flats and houses to let. The advertisements may be for short or long-term rentals and may contain a series of photographs copied from other adverts. But in reality, the property does not exist, has already been rented out, or has been rented to multiple victims at the same time.

The victim loses the upfront fee they have paid and is not able to rent the property they thought they had secured with the payment.

In order to protect yourself from rental fraud:

  • Prior to sending even a small amount of money to anyone advertising rental properties, make sure the advertisement is genuine. You should satisfy yourself that the premises exist, have the premises checked thoroughly, and make sure that you are dealing with someone who has the right to let the property. If renting from abroad, ask a reliable contact to meet a letting agent or the landlord and view the property. 
  • Be aware of adverts where the method of contact preferred by the advertiser is by email. Look for telephone numbers that are based in the UK but be wary of phone numbers beginning with 070 (or +4470) which are non-geographic business numbers. Check that landline numbers work as these often are fax numbers that fraudsters find on the internet. 
  • Do not make payment via money transfer companies such as Western Union and MoneyGram. They should only be used to send money to people you know and trust. If you are asked to send money to your friend and then send the details of the transaction to the “landlord”, NEVER do it. This is called “Proof of funds” scam and results in the “landlord” withdrawing the funds using forget identification. 
  • Always use your common sense – if the property is too cheap and looks great then it’s probably too good to be true.