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Agency warns about prime central London sub-letting scams

A prime central London letting agency says there has been a rise in the number of subletting scams in that part of the capital.

Patterson Bowe, a boutique lettings and sales specialist in Kensington and Chelsea, says it has recently been approached by a number of landlords in search to tenants after having discovered that their properties had been illegally sub-let without their knowledge or consent. 

Although the central London agency database Lonres published information on so-called rogue tenants, Patterson Bowe says landlords must conduct rigorous due diligence and formal background checks on tenants before signing contracts. 

"An undersupply and increased demand in the current market has left room for certain tenants to bend the rules where they can. We have been contacted by both landlords and tenants looking for advice because they have fallen victim to these scams" says Stuart Patterson, managing director of Patterson Bowe.

The company says that relying on computerised reference checks alone is not enough to ensure the quality and reliability of tenants - the agency meets each tenant in person to gather what it calls "in depth background information" in order to build a profile for its landlord clients.

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    Indeed even traditional background checks can fail - it is very difficult to be sure that the tenants will be the right ones without, for instance, references from previous landlords, employers, and even from their peers. This problem gets exacerbated in light of the housing shortage major cities like London are currently experiencing, with the number of tenants applying per property at an all time high.

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