London agent Benham and Reeves has warned of an increasing level of fraudulent rental applications. Using data from its referencing agency, LetRef, the agent found an average of six fraudulent applications a month in 2018, using either fake bank statements and fake or cloned employers to pass the referencing stage.
So far this year, this has more than doubled to an average of 13 per month. The number of fraudulent cases increased again in June to 16, the same month the tenant fees ban was introduced, the agent said.
Marc von Grundherr, director at Benham and Reeves, said the problem goes beyond fake bank statements and said the firm has seen an increase in the number of fake passports being used by fraudsters. He added: “This surge in fake applications is a very worrying statistic for a rental market that is already straining under the current requirements of ‘generation rent’ and this increase demonstrates the importance of using a bonafide referencing company, where staff have been given specialist training from the National Crime Agency on recognising fraudulent documents.
“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.”