A new online lettings business that allows landlords to upload their own properties says it has uncovered a number of rental scams.
Click Tenant, which launched only at the end of last month, has already reported one case – where a bogus landlord was believed to be operating as part of a gang – to the police.
ClickTenant, which advertises landlords’ properties free on Rightmove and Zoopla, offers services including full management said to be at an unmatched low price.
Managing director Danielle Cullen said that criminals are advertising false properties with high-quality photos in prime locations and at reasonable rents.
Tenants are then lured into paying upfront fees for a property that either does not exist or has been let to multiple victims at the same time.
One bogus landlord attempted to contact interested tenants over a weekend, to request large sums of money.
Another was found to be part of a criminal gang specialising in rental fraud.
Cullen said: “Every property platform that allows landlords to upload their own adverts will be vulnerable to these types of potential scams.
“As ClickTenant.com is a newly launched website, fraudsters believe we will be vulnerable and unable to spot this criminal activity.
“Unlike other new businesses, we have been successfully operating StudentTenant.com for a number of years, and have built up a wealth of invaluable experience in situations like these.
“We’ve been able to use this to assist tenants to ensure they do not fall victim to such ruthless schemes.
“Our team works very hard in these instances to prevent these operations from being executed before they reach the tenants.
“It’s common practice for all of our staff to inform potential tenants to never part with any money in any instance – potential scammer or not.
“We also advise not to have direct contact with would-be landlords without our input.
“We have been able to uncover several potential attempts to request large sums of money, and work very closely with the tenants to ensure the relevant authorities and fraud teams are made aware.”
Reports of rental fraud to police in England and Wales leapt from 2,216 in 2014 to 3,193 in 2015 – the latest year for which there is data.