Bogus pop-up agents raking in money from landlords and tenants.
An agent says that bogus ‘pop-up’ firms are repeatedly springing up, raking in high six-figure sums and then doing a bunk – typically leaving 20-40 landlords and tenants in the lurch after losing rents and deposits.
The problem has blown up again in the last three months, but has been going on for a number of years. The fraudsters are doing it over and over again. The firms are set up under false names and appear to employ staff with false names. You never see any of them on Facebook or LinkedIn and the properties do not appear on Rightmove or Zoopla. If you ring up an industry bodies to ask if the firms are members, they cite data protection. At least with ARLA, you can check out who the members are – but none of these bogus agencies are ever members.
The main problems seem to be in London with ‘pop-up’ agents. They set up for a short period of time then do a disappearing act, leaving landlords and tenants out of pocket. Bogus agents target firms managing properties. They then approach the landlord saying they have a tenant who is keen on the property and prepared to pay a far higher rent. The landlord may then agree to a viewing – although the viewing itself is bogus: “However, it does get them into the property, and the landlord believes there is a genuine tenant.
Landlords living abroad are also targeted. The biggest single deterrent would be a legal requirement for all residential property investors to check out the agent they are potentially about to deal with – and who could fleece both them and their tenants.
Agency can be set up without any checks, licensing requirements or industry regulations.
East Midlands Property Management is a member of ARLA Propertymark – call a member of our team today.