The founder of eviction specialist Landlord Action is advising landlords to use accredited letting agents and not try to take the cheap option of advertising for tenants on websites.
Shamplina is a host of Channel 5’s TV show Nightmare Tenants, Slum Landlords, and on last evening’s episode he discovered what happened when one landlord decided to let her property through a listings website.
Initially she was delighted when a young professional moved into her flat promising to look after the place. He boasted of a private education and his references showed a successful career in the City - but it didn’t take long before he stopped paying the rent.
"We've learnt that bad tenants are more likely to target [websites] because they hope they will be subjected to fewer checks. In the future, we'd always go through an agent - although even this has no guarantee. It's the law that needs to change to make landlords less vulnerable to unscrupulous tenants” McNaught told the programme.
Shamplina says this situation is not uncommon.
“This guy is a serial bad tenant. He has been evicted previously after running up costs of £30,000 in unpaid rent and stolen furniture from an overseas landlord. In Vicky’s case, he used false references to secure the property.”
Shamplina says this should serve as a serious warning to landlords about using free classified websites to advertise their property to rent.
“We’ve come across many similar cases in the past where we see serial bad tenants prey on less experienced landlords who let their properties on consumer websites. Unfortunately, the majority of these landlords are deceived by well educated con artists. With absolutely nothing in place to safeguard landlords, they find themselves in all sorts of trouble” he says.
* An earlier version of this story made an inaccurate reference to the Gumtree website; this site was not mentioned in the programme under discussion.