The National Landlords Association (NLA) has issued a warning about the number of rental scams on listing website Gumtree.
The NLA says it’s been contacted by a number of defrauded tenants since a new wave of scams appeared on the site.
Unsuspecting potential tenants, usually from overseas, reply to advertisements on the website for rental accommodation in the UK. After supposed satisfactory e-mails, tenants are asked to send money to the “landlord”.
Having sent the money, when the tenants attempt to make contact with the “landlord” or collect keys to the property, the “landlord” is uncontactable and the potential tenant has been defrauded. A clue is that very often the letters from the fake landlord are written in poor English.
In the latest scam, the “landlord” claims to be a member of the NLA, uses the NLA logo and has created fake stationary copying that produced by the bona fide NLA Tenant Check service. Or they use fake letters from NLA local representatives to support their demands.
The NLA is reminding tenants that, no matter where they are from, they should not send payment to advertisers before they are certain that the advertiser is genuine.
It says overseas applicants needing to secure accommodation before they arrive in the UK would be well advised to first seek the help of the employer or university they are coming to.
Tenants wanting to check whether a prospective landlord is a member of the NLA should ask them for their membership number, then go to www.landlords.org.uk/member-verification