The online lettings platform Mashroom has set out a list of guidelines it’s offering to prospective tenants to avoid them falling victims of scams by rogue landlords.
It says prospective tenants must:
1. Keep a record of all transactions and conversations: The agency says ”If you’re looking to avoid being scammed, it’s absolutely vital that you keep a record of transactions and conversations that take place between you and the landlord. This is the only way that you will be able to prove any disputes or problems later on down the line.”
2. Ensure you never pay in cash: “Bank transfers or credit/debit card payments will have an electronic record, meaning they can be consulted if need be. If a landlord is insisting that you pay in cash, you may need to rethink whether you want to rent that property.
3. Getting your tenancy agreement in writing is vital: “This means that you can thoroughly check through everything before you sign.”
4. Using an agent or platform to find a property: “By using a good lettings platform or agent you are much less likely to encounter any troubles when it comes to the landlord. Lettings platforms and agents make sure that the homeowners they represent - the landlords - are reputable and trustworthy.”
5. Look out for upfront fees or no fees at all: “If a landlord asks you to pay an upfront fee, especially in cash, to reserve the property, be wary. While it is normal to have to pay a holding fee, make sure they give you enough time to consider the property. Again, make sure to pay via bank transfer or credit/ debit card.”
6. Look out for ‘no deposit’: "On the opposite side of the coin, if a landlord says there is no deposit, you should think twice. Usually, if this is the case, they will ask for a guarantor, whom they will charge a lot of money at the end of the tenancy for ‘repairs’. A legitimate landlord should ask for a deposit or a deposit replacement.”