Landlords are being urged to use accredited letting agents when looking for tenants, rather than advertising on free or low cost listings websites such as Gumtree.
Paul Shamplina, founder of campaigning group Landlord Action and host of TV show Nightmare Tenants, Slum Landlords, says that these type of listings are being targeted by rogue tenants.
On last night’s episode of the Channel 5 TV programme, Shamplina highlighted the case of Vicki McNaught, a landlord who decided to advertise her rental property through Gumtree.
She was pleased when a young professional moved in, boasting of a private education and with references showing he had a successful career in the City. But before long, the tenant stopped paying the rent.
Ms. McNaught told the programme: "We've learnt that bad tenants are more likely to target sites like Gumtree because they hope they will be subjected to fewer checks. In the future, we'd always go through an agent - although even this has no guarantee. It's the law that needs to change to make landlords less vulnerable to unscrupulous tenants”.
Shamplina helped Vicki evict the tenant and says he wants landlords to think twice about using free to list websites because “We’ve come across many similar cases in the past where we see serial bad tenants prey on less experienced landlords who let their properties on consumer websites.
“Unfortunately, the majority of these landlords are deceived by well-educated con artists. With absolutely nothing in place to safeguard landlords, they find themselves in all sorts of trouble.”