OpenRent Community

Fake tenant enquiries

Have any other landlords found that some enquirers are posing as tenants, but it later transpires they are wanting to sublet the property as a HMO?

I have had one enquiry openly offering this service, another admitted her intention only when I asked who would be moving in; I later found that two tenants had booked a viewing but were connected to the person wishing to sub-let and seemingly deciding if they liked the property, before she took it on…! Others, I now suspect of the same tactic.

My properties always rent within days but this time there seems to be a lot of fakes and time-wasters.

rick 1. I always assume you are being told lies unless solid proof otherwise , that is a problem I am aware of, but not had it happen to me

I’m not that cynical, Colin :slight_smile:… Though I have learned to take what I am initially told with a metaphorical pinch of salt. It’s just that I have not experienced this level of deception nor people pushing their ‘services’ though this site, in over 10 years of letting out property.

Time wasters can be weeded out by the questions you ask previewing, thru openrent, thus not wasting everyones time. this removes about 75% of enquiries

Thanks for the advice Colin, that’s absolutely what I do - my question is about the sneaky HMO ‘subletting agents’ that I have never experienced before.

Yes I get it. You can only go by your gut feeling. I find that mostly my first impression is usually the right one .But we can all make mistakes. Your leases must state no subletting so you can only reaffirm and maybe get themto “extra sign” this portion for future reference.

You definitely need to be extremely cynical in this business failing which you will get scammed

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i have had loads of that nonsense going on, its underhanded for sure, i have had them outright lie to me to get in on a viewing and then hot sell me their pipe dream, i loath the cheap deceit, yet on the upside, it shows just how much the high street greedy est agy are struggling which is a definite plus so i keep that in mind to keep me sane.

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Hi Rick,
Yes, I had one years ago. A female “nurse” arranged viewing (to be a sole occupant). Received a call from a nameless male saying they were running late. I’d left work early so she could view in daylight (winter). The suited guy did the viewing; the female just followed him around and said nothing. No questions asked! Not interested in details. He then offered to pay 6 mths. rent up front. I said I’d get back to him. Checked out his ‘own’ given address - looked like it was being used as a (not well-maintained) HMO with loads of vehicles in front drive/road; curtains hanging off, etc. I want control of who’s in my property. Plus, our L/A has now introduced “Additional HMO Licensing” - where L/L’s have to register/pay Fee where there’s only 3/4 occupants in 2 or more ‘households’ in the property - so, I’d no doubt have been fined further down the line (in ignorance as to how many would’ve been in there!)

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Hi, it’s not all bad. I had 3 genuine offers for this service just over a year ago. All were legit.
I now have a lease agreement with one couple who paid for the conversion, licensingand any upgrades required.

I have no complaints. The house is well looked after and the couple are now good friends.

Like with individual tenants, choose wisely.
Chris

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These are people going for a Rent 2 Rent type of thing. Lots of gurus around promoting this.
Up to you to decide if they are trustworthy and get an ironclad agreement.

just remember anyone that’s reading this that if something is too good to be true it’s because it usually is and in this case what makes this situation too good to be true is one man offering to do everything give you the contract and they will deal with the independent tenants turn your property into a HMO wax it down, make your property the best property in the world and all of that nonsense yet at the end of the day there only interest is receiving money and as a result when something ultimately goes wrong the landlord or the owner of the property is automatically legally responsible regardless to any agreement you may or may not have with these rent to rent tight people especially the ones that want to turn your house into a multiple occupancy premises you should check with your local authority housing department in the private sector and they will be able to explain further that the owner is responsible so that means when you take that back seat to relax because someone else is dealing with your property for you then you shouldn’t really be relaxed as something can come back on you at any moment something severe goes wrong.
it seems to be a similar rule to the tax rule as I myself employ an accountant as many others do so also yet if you check the rules you will find that if your accountant makes a mistake on something like your self-assessment returns then ultimately they have no responsibility legally and it is you who is held fully responsible and you cannot mitigate the fact that you used an accountant when you are being investigated as that does not count as mitigating circumstances for incorrectly filling out such documents

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I have had this happen twice in forty years of letting
Firstly-is your house up to building regulations for multiple occupation
If not you would be liable for a huge fine and court proceedings
Don’t believe them when they say they will convert it
Secondly make sure your contract states no subletting
In the first case that I experienced I reported the tenant to the environmental agency and stated that a single tenant had signed the contract
They cleared the house in a week
Bit risky but I was young and green
In the second case I only found out when she told me she was going on holiday for three weeks and the bins were still being put out!
I took over her residency temporarily
The three illegals I have to guess left immediately
They were living in the dining room
Thank goodness one of her tenants had left the week before and evidently the people living in the attic had left
She never returned
Two other tenants left within the fortnight having found somewhere else to live
She had told me several times she wanted to buy the house
Thank goodness right to buy in private letting didn’t exist
She was very clever in that I did regular inspections with the appropriate legal notification which is probably why she told me she was going on holiday
I think I got away pretty lightly considering

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you certainly did… Dont believe anything a potential tenant tells you until you have checked them out. If someone is in a rush and pushing you .Alarm bells!!!

Colin 3 .What are the questions that you ask to weed out the timewasters ?

Peter3…1Where do you work and how long have you been there? 2.Do you have any children ? 3 Do you smoke? 4 do you have any pets? 5 Where do you live now? 6 Is this for yourself only?.. If they presently live nearby do a driveby as a minimum. Check I D if viewing. I ask at some point how much they earn.REMEMBER its your property you are letting them live in . Be bold. If they dont answer the questions dont chase them ,delete them

Hi Rick1, yes a proliferation of these rent-to-rent scammers at the moment. Don’t fall for it as they promise you the moon. I’ve ‘interviewed’ a number of these as they present as potential tenants & when you dig down they’ve got a shell company set up so if you rented to them they will put in any tenant [ however bad ] and apparently use booking.com & AirBnB to advertise very short lets / high turnover tenants as well; they take the money and you won’t see a penny. Neighbours up in arms because of anti social behaviour and when you get the property back it’s trashed. One guy told me that they are running “seminars” to would-be R-T-R’s to find gullible property owners so they don’t have to buy a property! just a couple of months rent up front & they’ve got the keys…if you fall for it.
Their “company” would not pass a credit check nor probably would the “directors” which is why they are trying on this scam…
Don’t know how to prevent them pretending to appear as genuine tenant enquiries on OpenRent. I’ve reported a few now.

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Hi, yes I suspect that I have just had a viewing that didn’t seem quite right? There were certain questions that didn’t ring true, upon reflection I now think that this guy wants to sublet, his main focus about the property was that the second bedroom was small. I had explained this to him on the phone? He seemed to be trying to make it work in some other way, deep thoughts? This is not the norm as he was saying that it was for him and his gf only so why was the small bedroom so important? I believe that he was going to sub-let. I must admit that this is the first time I’ve experienced this.

After reading what you wrote Martin I am extremely confused, just because somebody wants a bigger bedroom does not mean in any way shape or form that they are going to sublet as this way of thinking is far too unnecessarily pessimistic and you would be best to get the facts before making your assumptions based upon pessimism.

I can’t believe I need to explain this but here we go, People may want a bigger bedroom for things such like an office or a gym or storage space or for a family member to stay over or because they perhaps are going to have a baby, The reasons are endless and this should not be your yardstick to know if someone is going to sublet or not as if it is then you will experience nothing but grave difficulties.

I get people saying ridiculous things and I think I’ve heard all ridiculous things from prospective tenants until another one ask me something that proves me wrong, however if a prospective tenant says a bedroom is not big enough then there is no further dialogue needed the only response that should be given should be then perhaps this place is not the right place for you then and that is that as you simply cannot change the size of a room.

Lastly there is absolutely nothing wrong with a prospective tenant trying to make the room size work for them even though they have moaned that it’s too small as everyone has budgets and needs.

I have had quite a few subletting tenants in my time and they have cost me between 20 and £40,000 in damages and rent issues btw.

The best advice I can give you to find out if someone is subletting or not is when you acquire the last three months bank statements you should meticulously go through each transaction to see if anyone else is paying money into the bank as this is usually an easy way to see that they are already subletting elsewhere this obviously is not one glove size for all as you may be getting a prospective tenant that wishes to sublet your property as Their first subletting property for instance, yes it is a very good measure to employ.
There are lots of other things that you can do and should do to try and weed out any prospective wanna be criminals yet in my experience it is all elements in the equation that need to be calculated rather than just one specific things such as they said the bedroom sizes too small.There are lots of other things that you can do and should do to try and weed out any perspective wanna be criminals yet in my experience it is all elements in the equation that need to be calculated rather than just one specific things such as they said the bedroom sizes too small

Please also note there is no such thing as normal in this world as everyone is different and therefore have different needs and requirements I think you meant to say it wasn’t usual but this most definitely doesn’t make it a subletting scenario.
If you need further guidance to all the other pointers that you can use as flags then just let me know and I’ll list you loads.

Thanks

Hi Andrew

Thank for your advice.

Please understand that it wasn’t just the fact that a second bedroom was unsuitable, it was other factors such as how our conversation took shape concerning the property in general.

The prospective tenant didn’t come back to us, but if he does your advice concerning bank statements is something I would have done, but thank you.

After 30 years in the letting arena you form opinions based on experience and I genuinely believe that this is what it was, but I guess we will never know.

Thank you for coming back to me, much appreciated. M