Its been a fairly quiet week for news although I understand that a fairly large news item should break later today (1 March 2019).
Warning about bogus landlords
A national warning has been issued by Action Fraud about fraudsters claiming to be landlords of rented properties advertised online.
They are tricking people into paying money for rent into the Tenancy Deposit Scheme. 28 reports were made to Action Fraud about this between December 2018 and February 2019.
Director of Action Fraud, Pauline Smith, said:
Devious fraudsters are targeting a whole host of victims, from university students to professionals, for their own selfish gain.
Falling victim to rental fraud can have a huge impact on your finances at a crucial time where every penny counts. This is why it’s so important to follow our advice to protect yourself.
If you think you have been a victim, report it to us.
Steve Harriott, CEO of the Tenancy Deposit Scheme, said:
Whilst the deposits are never actually protected through TDS, we’re keen to make sure consumers in the market are protected.
The fraudulent activity includes large sums of money and we want to raise awareness to stop people from falling victim to this type of activity.
If anyone has any queries or isn’t sure about whether or not the process they’re being asked to follow is correct, they can contact TDS who will be more than happy to guide them
This is the advice from Action Fraud:
- Always make sure you, or a reliable contact, has viewed the property with an agent or landlord before agreeing to rent a property.
- Don’t be rushed or pressured into making a decision. Only transfer funds when you’re satisfied a genuine property, safety certificates and valid contract are in place.
- Only pay for goods or service by bank transfer if you know and trust the person. Payments via bank transfer offer you no protection if you become a victim of fraud.
- Once you’ve paid your deposit, you can check whether it’s protected by entering your tenancy deposit certificate code on TDS website.
- Every report matters – if you’ve been a victim of fraud or cyber crime, report it to Action Fraud online or by calling 0300 123 2040.
Tenant Fee Ban warning for tenants
Various organisations are warning of a rough ride for tenants as landlords either raise their rent or exit the market due to a combination of increased regulation and tax hikes.
ARLA’s annual survey shows that just over 1/4 landlords raised rents in January and that more tenants are registering with agents.
David Cox, chief executive of ARLA Propertymark, said:
This month’s results are another huge blow for tenants.
With demand increasing by 46% from December, and rents starting to rise in response to all of the cost increases landlords have experienced over the last few years, tenants are in for a rough ride.
Last month, there were three landlords selling their buy-to-let properties per branch, and as landlords continue to exit the market, rent prices will only continue to rise.
With the Tenant Fees Act passing its final hurdle in the House of Commons and receiving Royal Assent this month, tenants will continue bearing the brunt, as agents and landlords start preparing for a post-tenant fees world.
Many of the landlords exiting are probably the good landlords as bad landlords never take any notice of the regulations anyway and just try to operate under the radar. I suspect that most landlords would cope with the regulation change but the increased taxation, which many regard as grossly unfair, is the final nail in the coffin.
Two more Client Money Protection Schemes gain approval
These are Money Shield and the National Approved Lettings Scheme (NALS).
- Money Shield is owned by ARLA Propertymark and the Dispute Service and will now be available to non ARLA Propertymark members, costing £400 pa
- Users of the NALS scheme will have to join NALS – which will bring in other benefits such as a legal helpline, an insurance product and legal updates.
This Property Industry Eye post has more details.
- The government’s’flag it up‘ campaign has published a downloadable A to Z of AML (Anti-Money Laundering) to help estate agents (as reported here), as it seems not enough are reporting suspicious activity. The UK loses an estimated £37bn each year through serious and organised crime, which money laundering helps to facilitate.
- Property slump pushes Foxtons into an annual loss
- Help to buy has helped builder Persimmon gain massive profits bringing calls for help to buy to be axed.
- CityMetric write that the housing crisis can’t be solved without urban land reform
- Doncaster landlord receives a £100,000 payout from the Council for slander
- Councils need more funding to take enforcement action against criminal landlords, RLA research shows
Newsround will be back next week.