Fallout from the recently introduced ban on tenant fees may be responsible for an increase in the number of fraudulent tenancy applications.
An article in Letting Agent Today on the 5th of July suggested that because tenants no longer need to pay a fee for checking their references, an increasing number are submitting fraudulent statements or giving false referees since they forfeit nothing when making a failed application.
Research shows that the number of fraudulent applications is currently running at some 13 cases a month compared to an average of six such cases a month reported last year – an increase of 117% – and have involved applicants faking bank statements, submitting fake passports, or claiming false employers in attempts to secure an apparently clean reference.
An apparent rise in the number of skilled forgers familiar with the format and codes used in making false identity documents that will pass anti-money laundering scrutiny has led to 11 cases of false passports being submitted in tenancy applications in the first five months of this year alone – compared to five in the whole of 2018.
Commentators argue that this upward trend in false and fraudulent tenancy applications is likely to continue as prospective tenants rely on the protection of the Tenant Fees Act in avoiding any finance penalty even when an application is turned down because they have failed a reference check.
Immediately after the Tenant Fees Act came into force on the 1st of June, Letting Agent Today reports that a further 16 cases of fraudulent tenancy applications came to light.