Tenants are increasingly using fake bank statements and employers to pass the referencing stage of the tenancy process – and the lettings fee ban is likely to worsen this trend.
Research from lettings and estate agent Benham and Reeves has found there’s been 13 fraudulent applications per month in 2019, up from six in 2018.
And owing to the lettings fee ban the company is expecting more fraudulent applications, because it won’t cost tenants if they fail with their application.
Marc von Grundherr, director of Benham and Reeves, said: “This surge in fake applications is a very worrying statistic for a rental market that is already straining under the current requirements of a ‘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 sideline, in order to up-sell other services and earn commission.
“Letting agents using one of these companies or making checks themselves are highly likely to end up with these fraudulent chancers flying in under the radar and into a rental property.”
Benham and Reeves uses referencing agency LetRef in a bid to weed out fake applications.