OpenRent Community

Potential scam - being asked for personal details prior arranging viewing of property

Hi, thank you for having me on this forum.

Before i name any landlord of interest.

Is a normal practice to ask personal questions by landlord i.e. current address while arranging a viewing? Why would landlord need this information if there is a chance the application never be placed? The explanation provided by landlord was something along lines: because i am a landlord >.<

During the conversation with landlord I have said, this is only about viewing at this time - if we are happy with property then we’ll take it further and supply a full application with whatever information are deemed necessary. Conversation was cut off after which received an email saying that my application was rejected on grounds: “Applicant did not want to provide further details.” Also, landlords phone number was marked as private.

To me, this reeks of an scam attempt stopped before it went further but i am interested what you might be thinking about before escalating.

Ta.

Hi Robert,

Some landlords have their own preferences when it comes to screening of prospective tenants, so this can vary across the website and between each landlord.

You’re ultimately not obliged to provide any information to the landlord directly that you’re not comfortable with. Where landlords wish to screen candidates before a viewing, you may prefer they make use of our standalone referencing service:

https://www.openrent.co.uk/tenant-referencing

During the initial stages of an enquiry the landlord’s number is kept private, although upon confirmation of a viewing and the initiation of Rent Now, you will of course be provided with contact details.

If you have concerns about a specific listing or landlord then please get in touch with us directly at info@openrent.co.uk, so that we can look into this for you.

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Hi Robert1, as a landlord, I take the time and effort to ask about many things, including current living area, to understand the many requirements of the prospective tenant. The goal is to eliminate those who are “just looking”, won’t like my area, or won’t get through the referencing questions further down the line. A tenant who is hesitant about providing basic info to me I might see as dodgy, not really committed to moving in, or potentially unreliable, all of which I avoid. A good person may be an unsuitable tenant for the particular property due to many factors which a landlord works to understand quickly with the right questions. I have found most people are grateful for the feed back even if they are not right for the property. I have good long term tenants now for all my property, so this process works for us.

Perhaps this gives you some insight into our world where effort goes into finding a good tenant who hopefully stays a long time. The tenant is just as glad to find a hands-on proactive landlord as the landlord is to find the suitable, reliable tenant.

Good luck to you Robert1, I hope you find your home soon.

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It’s simply to avoid time wasters.

I want to know if your a good match for my property, your employment situation and what your background is before spending any time on your enquiry.

You see I have a strict referencing criteria you need to pass via openrent and I can get rent guarantee insurance before I let you my property.

My property is worth nearly half a million pounds and if you are not a suitable tenant for financial reasons or for security reasons it is not worth spending time on your enquiry.

You have to realise that if i allow the wrong tenant in my property it can be a six month long and expensive ordeal removing you plus any costs of void periods and repairs to restore the property to a rentable standard.

There is massive risk by as a landlord in renting a property to you.

It is better to rule out the wrong tenant quickly in advance than to waste time and money on the wrong prospects.

A tenant asking to see my property without complying with due diligence seems like a window shopper or someone out to scam you.

The classic tenant scam is to pay the deposit and first month’s rent, and then stay put without paying to wait for eviction.

How can you ask me to take that risk on you?

We both don’t know each other well and you could be a future liability.

One way to look at it is you seeing the property to see if you like it is you doing your due diligence, Me asking about your situation is me doing my due diligence. If you don’t wish to share your circumstances with me, how do i know your a worthy prospective tenant?

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Thank you for taking time to respond.

I understand that every landlord wants to have some kind of assurance about potential tenant. But still fail to get, what sort of assurance my current address gives that you would decide not to progress? Going out to view a property is an effort on both sides, so can’t be really a time wasting activity. As potential tenant I have browsed various properties and narrowed list down to few potential places.

Maybe it was just down to landlord’s poor communication skills or unwillingness to understand other person. Either way, I do feel that bullet was dodged right there as for a successful renting operation good communication in both ways is a key.

Thank you again!

Some landlords just want to get background info before accepting viewings, potential tenants don’t need to supply this and are of course happy not to apply for that property if they don’t like the questions being asked.

Just my two cents

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I ask tenants what town they live in and if it’s in the same town how long for, so, as to know, if they are not originally from the area where I am renting.

If they are not originally from the area where they are renting I’d ask some more questions to gauge how long they could potentially be living in my property.

e.g. if a Dr is not from there area and wants to move in, he could potentially move out after 6 months as many are on contract work, where as if somebody was born in the area and tells me they want a long term let, I’d more likely feel comfortable renting to them as I personally prefer long term tenants.

If you are from an area with a ‘bad reputation’ and didn’t want to disclose it and be tarred with the same brush as others from that area, personally, I’d respect a prospective tenant for being honest there and it wouldn’t effect any decisions on viewings.

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Hey Robert1
I’m sorry you had a bad experience with this landlord. Of course you should expect to be treated in a reasonable and respectful way. You are our potential customer and good communication is absolutely crucial to the future of the relationship. But you would be surprised at some of the inquiries we get! Please be prepared to answer a few basic questions, including your current employment status and where you are living at the moment (but… you are right… I don’t see any need to know your exact address). You are also welcome to ask questions of your own. The way I see it is that every conversation I have with a potential tenant could be the start of a long term involvement, and starting off on the right foot (on both sides) is vital. Every conversation is part of an interview process on both sides. We are trusting you with our most valuable asset, and have a very short time to decide if you are going to be a the right tenant for us. Likewise, you need to make sure that your new landlord is approachable, will look after the property, respond to any problems quickly and efficiently, and give you security in your new home. Wishing you very good luck with your search for the perfect home.
Teresa

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That’s awesome, thank you Teresa for taking time to write. I agree with you totally.

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As other tenants said, the healty communication is everything BUT outside from both perspective as tenant or landlord, there is also another critical question that what does OpenRent do to avoid that kind of scams or fake enquiry! I have been searching a proper place to settle up last 3 weeks and i have already communicated at least 20 different landlord in here or other similar web sites.
Today i have recieved a fake email which seemed is coming from OpenRent, can you believe! The guy who claimed himself as landlord has a flat at good place around paddington, it was very cheap in good area so i knew it was obviously scam but specially this guy was able to find a passport photo from somewhere outside who dosent even know his passport is being used for this fraud!
I have informed the OpenRent to be avoid it and i have warned them a few times that they have responsibility to aware people for seking healt and trustable relation between both parts!
I am sure that hundreds of people are scamed and their money and may be everything they have went for nothing! You may think that is personal responsibility but i dont think it is not and i will follow this issue not matter what to reveal in public and in social media if OpenRent does not reply me or does not protect to both side while they are making money on thounds of people!

Best Regards.

Hi Esen,

Rest assured, when landlords list with us we verify their details and have stringent systems in place to to verify their ownership of the property. This, alongside numerous other features are designed to ensure tenants are both protected from malicious activity and are dealing with the landlord directly.

In rare instances where malicious emails are sent, it’s always important to ensure double check the email they’re being sent from. What’s important to recall is that OpenRent will never ask for payment outside of Rent Now - with the payment stage being one of the later stages that takes place after the tenancy agreement is signed.

https://www.openrent.co.uk/rent-now

Kind Regards,
George

Ani, when landlords ask for private information and use email addresses that conceal their identity or they wouldn’t dare use if applying for a job it doesn’t do them any favours. People forget trust runs both ways. Tenants are also looking for signs of trust and credibility. I speak as a landlord and someone who is now also looking to rent.

Example. Had a landlord who I spoke to yesterday, explained everything to him clearly. He said go through Rent Now and tomorrow we meet to show him documents. Paid £200 to open rent, this morning he phones 1) cant meet today 2) send documents to email, email is not convincing eg hides last name, 3) starts telling me his fears and doubts and asks if I could pay 3 months deposit, questions why I wanted 6 months when his contract was for 6 months and that what it went to when I clicked on OpenRent. Why not say part 3 before I made the holding deposit. Also since sending my references have not had a reply and just left in limbo.

People ask for “holding deposit” to show you are serious but everything runs both ways. Now I’m being held back as I can’t give a definitive answer to other landlords who are more then happy to rent to me.

Hi Mamode,

We always advise to only provide information to the landlord where you are comfortable to do so, and you can always tell the landlord you’d prefer to go through the OpenRent referencing process instead.

In this situation I understand that the time between placing the holding deposit and when you wanted to move in was just a few days, so you had agreed to provide proof of employment etc. to the landlord directly. There was subsequently an issue with meeting in person, which delayed your application.

We are working on making our referencing process quicker, without losing the detail it currently provides - but I unfortunately can’t be more specific on what this will look like or when it will be available. This should however help avoid situations like this occurring in future.

I’m sorry to hear this hasn’t gone ahead. As we have confirmed by email, we have reviewed your case and have returned your holding deposit in full. We wish you the best of luck with your property search.

Simon

Its such a catch 22 situation. I ask a million questions on the phone before viewing but I don’t ask for their National Insurance number and full name.

If the landlord wants to know where you live, how you pay rent, how long you have lived in the area, or if you will pass a credit check. None of these things can be connected to your full name and address.

Landlords don’t want to waste time viewing to people they wouldn’t consider as tenants, its a waste of your time and ours.

Once a viewing has been done, and you have expressed an interest then the landlord would want your Driving license number etc.

Its unfortunate that it has to be this way, and neither party trusts the other until a relationship has been established. I once had a potential tenant ask for a picture of the land register to prove that I was the rightful owner.

When talking to a landlord its best if your free and opening about your living arrangements and leave the passport number till after the viewing

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There are a lot of instances of subletting. And it’s a good way of making lots of money.You rent several houses and sublet at higher prices. I’ve been a landlord for about thirty years and it’s happened to me twice in different houses. Maybe the tenant had been caught by that and wanted to be sure by asking for the land registry. If a tenant gets caught by that they have very few rights.

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its only right that the tenant gets to find out about the Landlord . as also the landlord finds out about the tenant… If they ask for proof I own the place… want to see my I D …talk to my other tenants… thats ok with me . They of course have to give me their info also

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I’m a landlord & was seriously duped by two guys trying to rent on Open Rent. They agreed to rent & we went through the process of holding deposit and checks. One potential tenant flat refused to give any personal details. He would not fill in the information for checks. It was a complete nightmare as my flat was on hold. He kept saying he had a top secret job with the police. The reference check people through open rent said it could be plausible. They in fact passed the other guy (the lead applicant) even though they couldn’t verify his bank accounts. I had to go back to them and question this. It was a complete mess. I knew something was very dodgy but No one would help me at open rent. I couldn’t let anyone else view my flat while in this ludicrous process with people who were clearly time wasters. I tried desperately to get open rent to do something about it. It went on for over a month, open rent did nothing. They told me I had to decline them. If I declined them, I would lose the holding deposit which at this point, I was entitled to keep as they were scammers. They did not have the right to rent & so never should have been applying through open rent. I explained this to open rent but nothing was done. I lost 5 weeks of precious time and had to start all over again. After weeks (2 months I think) of pulling my hair out with this, I got 3/4 of the deposit. Landlord doesn’t get the whole deposit which I didn’t know until this point. This time I’m asking for proof of right to rent up front at the viewing. I’ve been making that clear from the very beginning in my listing & in my replies to people. It feels invasive to me but it must be done. There are serious scammers and time wasters. This is why as landlords, we need to know who you are from the beginning. I agree that there is no reason to have your current address except that it’s a good way to see what kind of living accommodation you are currently in by google mapping it. It does make sense to me but it’s a step too far in my opinion to ask for this before a viewing. Open rent should confirm right to rent with all potential tenants but they do not. Even if they did, there’s nothing stopping one tenant having right to rent (the one who signs up to OR) and then Knowingly having a flatmate who is not eligible. And just to say, open rent has never asked for proof of ownership of my property so there’s no safeguards in place for that either. The only time asked for this is by RIGHTMOVE if you pay the extra costs to be listed on it. So both sides have the right to ask about each other, to verify who the landlord is and to verify who the tenant is. Kind regards

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if it feels dodgey at the start simply remove them from your list dont take any money dont believe them and move on to the next applicant. Check them out yourself. before you go further. If someone told me they had a top secret job with the police and couldnt give any details GOODBYE I dont want any killings on my doostep!!You dont need help from open rent you need to be careful. .not too eager to take money. if your property is empty for a few weeks so what ,if they cant show a british passport or driving licence or bank statements GOODBYE. Protect yourself now move on

I think tenants should have to pay for referencing and forfeit their holding deposit if they fail - but unfortunately the law disagrees with me so if a tenant fails I not only lose the referencing fees, but also the time and cost of the void and finding new tenants. I therefore ask for proof of everything the referencing agency needs before I instigate official referencing. I as questions at the viewing - current living arrangements, rental amount, income, credit history etc. if a potential tenant is not prepared to answer those then I assume they have something to hide and don’t proceed. There are more tenants than properties.

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