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Fraudulent letting applications rise 117% in 2019

The number of fraudulent letting applications is increasing due to agents failing to carry out checks, according to lettings and estate agent Benham and Reeves.

The estate agent found an average of six fraudulent applications per month in 2018, and this so far has increased to 13 per month in 2019 – a 117 per cent rise. In June, the number of fraudulent applications rose to 16.

Benham and Reeves points to the introduction of the Tenant Fee Act 2019, which means letting agents cannot charge tenants for references; the firm believes this has resulted in an increase in fraudulent applications as it does not cost an applicant anything to chance it.

The number of fake passports being used in lettings applications is also rising. In 2018, there were five cases involving them. In the first five months of 2019 there were 11 cases.

Benham and Reeves director Marc von Grundherr says: “This surge in fake applications is a very worrying statistic for a rental market that is already straining under the current requirements of a ‘generation rent’.

“Unfortunately, the majority of referencing companies do not even collect ID and proof of address and conduct referencing as a side-line, in order to up-sell other services and earn commission.

“Letting agents using one of these companies or making checks themselves are highly likely to end up with these fraudulent chancers flying in under the radar and into a rental property.”

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