There has been a 10% increase in fraudulent tenancy applications, according to Barbon.
The referencing group, which includes HomeLet, Let Alliance and Rent4sure, has revealed the extent to which tenancy application fraud is on the rise, with a notable spike over the past 18 months.
The company warns that fraudsters are becoming smarter at a time when the UK is facing the biggest income squeeze in almost 50 years.
The firm’s chief executive officer, Andy Halstead, said: “The volume of alerts on applications is continually increasing, and in the last 12 months alone, we’ve flagged over 50,000 suspicious applications.
“As demand for property soars and rental prices rise, tenancy fraud is becoming more profitable and many more chancers want to get in on the act. They’ll use any opportunity, and we’re seeing increasingly sophisticated methods being used to try to obtain access to properties to support criminal activity or sublet illegally.”
HomeLet’s latest Rental Index data for April 2022 shows that the average UK rent for a new tenancy has risen to £1,091 per calendar month, up by 9.5% from last year.
Rising rents and the cost-of-living crisis are just two of the factors helping to increase the pressure on household budgets, said Halstead.
“Unfortunately, this could mean that some tenants present a higher risk. Add rising fraud data into the mix, and the situation becomes a perfect storm,” he added.
Halstead is urging agents to help mitigate the risks and protect their landlords by using high quality, trusted referencing checks from a professional partner.
He continued: “Referencing tenants is the first line of defence, and our experience, expertise and procedures help keep customers safe.
“We’re continually optimising our checks, which mix technology with the most experienced team in the market. We call it ‘Intelligent Referencing’ for a reason.”
With fraud on the rise, HomeLet, Let Alliance and Agent Rainmaker are hosting an exclusive webinar for Letting Agents on Thursday. The session will cover beating the fraudsters and keeping your business and clients safe.