From time to time, we work alongside other letting agents, to assist us with viewings on letting instructions we receive. As agents based in London, we are able to fill instructions across the capital by doing JV with other agents. I have my selected tried and trusted agents – who I have always enjoyed working with, but from time to time I have to establish new relationships.
The other day, I approached a new agent for help. They quickly received an offer from a prospective tenant. At this point, our normal procedure is that the tenant completes our reservation form with terms, and completes a detailed application form as well as supplying supporting documentation. As soon as I received the information, alarm bells did ring. However, one must never assume. As we are specialists in vetting tenants, I do see a number of things from the outset that others would not spot and that includes a high percentage of tenant referencing agencies – who often attend my talks to get ideas on processing. Without going into too much detail, because tenants who are out to deliberately de-fraud landlords, read articles on the internet. There were a number of reasons as to why the application was deemed fraudulent. All tenants sign a declaration on our application form and for any applications that are deemed fraudulent a prospective tenant will lose all monies paid. That is clearly our terms; you choose to enter into, once you sign and/or submitted your application for tenancy.
The agent that I was working with on this instruction could not possibly understand how this application was fraudulent. Because in the words of the agent, “he produced payslips”!!!!!. Well I had to educate this ARLA agent, that any document, including passports can be forged.
The applicant later telephoned our office demanding his money back. He said he did not care if his application was fraudulent. George Ellis Property Services have nothing to hide, we are not con merchants, but I totally will not entertain any tenants who knowingly submit fraudulent applications. The applicant later went back to the agent to ask if they could help him find another property. Despite the agency knowing the facts on this fraudulent application, the agency said they would. I would like to mention that this prospective tenant was taken to court recently by his current landlord for rent arrears in the thousands (which were never disclosed by the tenant), but there were many other factors that made this application fraudulent. For one, the applicants (joint tenancy) did not work where they stated, and the list goes on.
You see, not all agents are the same and some are just simply dishonourable and greedy. I feel sorry for the next unsuspecting landlord who gets this rogue tenant. What the private rented market should do is ensure this type of tenant is excluded from renting in the PRS and there are ways to do that. If agents stop being greedy and landlords stop being cheap and pay for a good and thorough service. Agents should be working to protect their clients, (their landlords) there are too many quotas for staff to achieve results and this makes them throw mud against the wall in the hope that some will stick.
Getting into debt is not a crime, I can work with any tenant who has got into genuine financial hardship – it happens. But I am not ever going to be desperate enough to compromise, my reputation or that of my company in order to make a quick buck. If you want to ensure you know who is going to be renting your property and they have the ability to pay, call us to do the vetting and checking of your prospective tenants on your behalf, before you allow them to take occupancy of your property. Or book onto our Ultimate Masterclass in Vetting & Checking your Tenants training course, so we can teach you how to. The introductory price will cease at 5pm on Friday 15 March 2013.