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Tag Archives: illegal use of property

Five ways for landlords to protect properties against fraudsters and criminals

Criminals and fraudstersMost tenants are honest and honourable, but sometimes you can get caught out.

Here are five things you can do to protect yourself.

1. Register a restriction at the Land Registry

This is a special service offered by the Land Registry designed to prevent forgery. It does this by requiring the solicitor or conveyancer acting in a transaction, to certify they are satisfied that the person selling or mortgaging the property is the true owner.

As of 1 February 2012 this service (which normally costs £50) is free to property owners who do not live at the property. You can read more about this at the Land Registry website.

2. Provide a different address to the Land Registry as the address for service

If your tenant is trying to sell or charge your property, you may not find out about it if the only address the Land Registry have for you is the property address itself.

You can have up to three addresses registered so make sure you have at least one other address registered.

3. Carry out detailed credit and reference checks on potential tenants

Although your ability to assess potential tenants may be exceptional, there is always a first time for getting caught out. Remember that con men succeed because they appear plausible and respectable. That is their job.

Proper referencing will not pick up everything but if it is known that you do this you may not be targeted.

Conversely if the fraudsters become aware that you never do proper referencing you may find that they are your tenants.

4. Never pay out against a cheque before it is cleared

This is a scam which apparently is used more against agents than landlords. A large cheque is sent, ostensibly for rent in advance, and the agency is then put under pressure to pay out against it before it has cleared.

Needless to say it doesn’t clear, and the agency is then left out of pocket. Warning signs are:

  • Cheques for amounts larger than are actually needed
  • No, or few, contact details provided
  • Cheques sent in envelopes with no postmark, and no proper covering letter
  • ‘Urgent’ demands for payments to be made before the cheque could have cleared
  • Cheques apparently from large organisations where no invoices or purchase orders have been issued

5. Don’t accept large cash payments up front, do carry out regular inspections

As you are no doubt aware, it is not unknown for criminals to rent properties and then convert them to cannabis factories.

I wrote about this a couple of years ago  and you will find a helpful police guide here.

For detailed information I suggest you read the article and the police pdf. However one sign to watch out for is payment of a large amount of the rent in advance, in cash.

It is also suspicious if tenants are very anxious (after making the big cash payment) to be left alone. Understandably if they are going to drill holes in your walls for electric cabling and install high-powered lighting using illegal power supplies (which is what they do).

So insist on payments (at least where they are substantial payments)  being done via  a bank, and make it clear that you will be carrying out regular inspections.

Burglar picture by Bixentro

More on drug factories in rented properties

Further to my earlier post on this topic, I have spotted an interesting item on the BBC News web-site. This gives more information about the signs to spot a cannabis factory, and is well worth reading, plus there is an informative video. Generally though landlords need to do regular inspections, and if a tenant consistentlyContinue Reading

Preventing drug factories in rented properties

cannabis plants growing indoors

I have recently been provided by Suffolk Police with an excellent guide to spotting and dealing with drug production in rented properties. This is an increasing problem, for example drug producers renting houses for the sole purpose of growing cannabis. This is very bad for the landlords as not only will it affect their reputation,Continue Reading

The Landlord Law Blog from Tessa Shepperson

Tessa is an English lawyer specialising in residential landlord and tenant law.

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