Tenancy application fraud is sharply on the rise, it has been claimed.
More tenants are being turned down by some referencing firms, but there is evidence that fraudsters are effortlessly getting through some systems.
They include repeat sub-letters; people who have faked bank statements; those with made-up jobs and whose employers are non-existent; and applicants who should not even be in this country.
The warnings come from Tony Williams, managing director of UKtenantdata, which operates a number of services for agents including tenant screening.
Williams said that some new cheap referencing firms have emerged which claim to offer due diligence for £5 or less.
He said: “I was interested at how these companies can knock out quality reporting covering off all the due diligence processes at a fraction of the cost of firms like ours.”
He said he had researched two companies providing referencing services at under a fiver – one in the south and one in the north – “and it became apparent that our due diligence processes and theirs were poles apart”.
Williams said that these cut-price services actually do little more than provide tenants with a self-certification process.
He said: “This isn’t due diligence and exposes decent agencies and their clients through clever marketing to problems down the line.”
He said investigation into some of the tenants ‘cleared’ by the cut-price referencing firms found: serial sub-letters in London; applicants with non-existent employees; and overseas nationals with no proof of residency or a visa long spent.
Williams said his own firm is having to turn down more fraudster applicants.
He said: “As a tenant vetting agency we do have to decline individuals – for example, where there is adverse court data, failed accommodation references or a shortfall in rental affordability.
“What is a worry is the increase in blatant fraudulent applications which range from doctored salary slips and bank statements to the complete ID theft.
“This blatant fraud adds up to 34% of our total declined applicants, up 16% on our 2016/17 data.”