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Students warned over dodgy landlords

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04/09/2015
The National Landlords Association (NLA) has issued a warning to students about to rent a property for the first time.

With the new academic year starting later this month, new tenants have been told they must be vigilant and avoid unscrupulous landlords.

The NLA said it received complaints every year from students who had been scammed by landlords.

Many forced tenants to pay an advance fee and even used the NLA logo to convince students they are genuine. However, they disappear one the money has been transferred.

Alongside the NLA, the National Union of Students and the National Crime Agency have released this advice for students:

• Do not send money up front to anyone advertising online, make sure they are genuine first and view the property if you can

• Beware if you are asked to wire any money via a money transfer service, criminals can use details from the receipt to withdraw money from another location

• Use government approved deposit schemes such as my|deposits

• Contact the organisations the landlord claims to be associated with in order to verify their status. Tenants wanting to check whether a prospective landlord is a member of the NLA or accredited should ask them for their membership number, then go to: www.landlords.org.uk/member-verification

• Overseas applicants needing to secure accommodation before they arrive in the UK should first seek the help of the employer or university they are coming to.

• Get paperwork and proof: ask for a copy of the tenancy agreement or safety certificates to confirm that the “landlord” has a genuine legal connection with property.

• Remember, if the offer is too good to be true, it probably is.

Carolyn Uphill, chair of the National Landlords Association, said: “Rental fraud is one of the uglier aspects of private renting and it tends to rear its head this time of year as students, particularly those coming from abroad, look to secure rented accommodation for the academic year.

“Tenants, no matter where they are from, should not send payment to advertisers before they are certain it is genuine and should contact their university who will have a list of reputable landlords and letting agents.

“If you receive official correspondence from a ‘landlord’ and are worried it might be a scam, often a good clue is that it will be written in poor English.”

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