Home Property Tenancy fraud spikes 140% in a year

An analysis of over 600,000 tenancy applications has found that the number of fraudulent applications from tenants looking to secure a new rental property rose by 140% last year.

The analysis, carried out by tenant referencing experts Goodlord, found that payslip fraud was the most common way tenants try to trick referencing systems.

To carry out the analysis, a sample size of more than 300,000 tenancy applications from 2022 was compared with more than 300,000 applications from 2023.

The data shows that, in 2022, just over one case of fraud (1.2) was picked up for every 1,000 applications. In 2023, this rose to 2.9 cases in every 1,000 – a rise of 140% year on year.

The most common form of fraud seen by the fraud fighting experts at Goodlord is payslip fraud – where tenants either boost the amount of income they’re receiving or edit its source, such as changing a company name.

Methods used range from rudimentary editing through to the use of sophisticated photoshopping tools.

Other forms of fraud picked up over the last year include providing false passport images, doctoring bank statements, offering fake references, and claiming to work for companies that don’t exist.

In 2023 alone, pay slip fraud accounted for 58% of all fraud cases detected and caught by Goodlord. Even one of these slipping through could cost the agent a lifetime landlord value of £10,000.

Despite the overwhelming majority of applications being above board, the rise in fraud over the last year highlights the need for robust safeguards against rental market manipulation.

Nishma Parekh, Head of Referencing at Goodlord, said, “Fraud can come in many forms. In some instances, tenants who are desperate to secure a property  think bumping up their salary will help seal the deal.

“Given the current pressures on the housing market, it’s understandable as to why we’re seeing a rise in this type of fraud. However, this is inadvisable as you could end up on the National Fraud Database, impacting future job prospects and other life events such as securing loans. And, of course, there is also a much darker side to fraud, such as criminals using false IDs to secure properties, or people who are looking to sign tenancies using forged documents.

“As the tools used to commit fraud grow more sophisticated and personal information is increasingly digitised, it’s vital that landlords and agents can access the cutting-edge technology designed to fight back – ones that can protect them and ensure they can let their properties out in good faith.

“Here at Goodlord, through integrations with payroll providers, HMRC, the fraud database and Open Banking, skilled teams and tech solutions are helping tackle fraud, making it increasingly hard for bad actors to game the system.”

Referencing teams are being trained to spot the inconsistencies which give away fraudulent applications in the face of increasingly inventive tricks. Companies like Goodlord are also harnessing Open Banking and AI tools to detect and prevent potential fraud, as well as building in systems which can spot repeat offenders.

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