a) Inflated dilapidation claims
Our tenancy specialists continue to experience age-old challenges with expat tenancies - particularly with London landlords. Traditionally, some landlords seemed to regard the tenant's deposit as a form of "bonus" income and this is particularly true in cases of the more expensive London properties which attract international assignees.
The introduction, a few years ago, of government-backed, tenancy deposit schemes was a worthwhile attempt to protect tenants from the more unscrupulous landlords. Where the tenancy is an Assured Shorthold Tenancy, the deposit is protected until any dilapidations dispute is resolved, with the opportunity to use a free dispute resolution service. However, where the tenant is a company (e.g. the employer of an assignee) or if the annual rent is over £100,000pa, the statutory protection does not apply.
What is clear is that unjustifiable dilapidations claims by landlords continue to be commonplace. These will often be in excess of the deposit and, relying on the understandable reluctance of many tenants to devote serious time to the issue, a "compromise" is reached based on forfeiture of the deposit.
Our advice is to always examine the fine detail of a dilapidations claim and to talk to us if the landlord persists with an unreasonable claim.
The rental property market has become a favourite target for fraudsters who are causing financial misery for house hunters. Young recruits to a company, who may be relocating to an unfamiliar part of the UK, are particular targets.
Fraud involving rental properties is not new, but as most rentals are now advertised online through websites such as craigslist.com or gumtree.com the number of scams has soared. For example, Western Union now deals with more rental property fraud than any other type of deception. Typically, the fraudster will post an advert and then ask a prospective tenant to make a payment to a bank using a money transfer. They claim to be the owner or a letting agent but have no connection to the property. Once the unsuspecting tenant has sent the money the ‘landlord’ disappears and is uncontactable.
To protect employees against rental fraud, a few practical tips:
•Be wary if the rent looks suspiciously cheap.
•Do not send money up front, make sure the landlord or letting agent is genuine first.
•Beware if you are asked to wire any money via a money transfer service. Criminals can use details from the receipt to withdraw money from another location.
•Tenants wanting to check whether a prospective landlord is a member of the NLA should ask them for their membership number, then go here to verify.