Homeppl: 5 tips to spot and stop tenant fraud

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Guest blog by Homeppl, tenant referencing software that provides innovative, intelligent, and comprehensive tenant referencing services at scale.


Tenant fraud is a growing issue in the UK – one in every 50 tenant applications is fraudulent, rising to one in 20 in London. There are many reasons why individuals want to rent properties fraudulently – professionals are generally looking to take possession of a high value property and illegally sublet it, often as a way of laundering cash, while amateur fraudsters are misrepresenting their finances to rent properties they cannot afford. But whatever the reason, the result is the same – the landlord is left open to huge financial and legal risk.

This guide reveals the top five tactics used to commit tenant fraud and offers top tips on how to spot it and stop it.

1. Fake identity

One of the most common ways tenant fraud is being committed is by using fake IDs – either by presenting an entirely fraudulent document or by stealing someone else’s ID and then renting the property using that person’s name.

Top tip: Cross-reference driving licenses and passports with external sources to establish not only if the ID being represented is legitimate, but also, if it actually belongs to the person presenting it. Sounds simple, but the volume of fraudulent tenancy applications is on the rise and this is the easiest way for fraudsters to kick-start the process.

2. Doctored or fake bank statements

A method generally used by amateur fraudsters to exaggerate their income – and therefore their ability to afford rent – but also by professionals to create a ‘legitimate’ income source, is by editing bank statements.

Top tip: Check if the PDF has been modified since it was created – if it has this could suggest the

data on the document has been tampered with. Some fraudsters employ sophisticated

methods to tamper with documents, so leveraging technology is key in spotting dodgy statements.

3. Bogus references

A key part of the tenant referencing process is obtaining references from employers and previous landlords. To bypass these checks, fraudsters are not only creating fake references, but entirely fake businesses too. They are purchasing domain names, creating a business website with corresponding email addresses, and then providing these as references. This allows the fraudster to have complete visibility over the referencing process as they are receiving emails as part of the process, ultimately meaning they can fulfil their own reference.

Top tip: Check the age of the website to establish if it has been created recently, this could suggest

it has been built simply to provide a reference. If it’s a really new website this could raise a

red flag, but do note that there will always be legitimate new sites created so all references should be treated honestly and carefully.

4. Modified or phony payslips

Another method for exaggerating pay or creating a fake reference is to provide doctored or counterfeit payslips. Now that most payslips are digital, fraudsters are able to – as with bank statements – amend these online and create a new version that looks exactly like the original,

but with a higher level of pay. Others create entirely fake payslips from fake employers.

Top tip: A business check with Companies House will ascertain firstly, if the employer on the

payslip exists, and secondly, if it is financially viable – if the business has been registered

simply to act as a reference, it will have no filing history. Always harness credible, third-party

records to sense-check how viable the details provided are.

5. Reluctances to connect to open banking

Open Banking offers a simple, safe and secure way for tenants to share their banking data in order to speed up the referencing process. So, if a tenant refuses to connect to Open Banking as part of the referencing checks, this should raise a few question marks.

Top tip: If a tenant is reluctant to connect to Open Banking it could be a sign that they have

something to hide, so this definitely warrants further investigation. The benefit of this technology is that it is leveraging legitimate, live data that correlates with legitimate bank statements, so it’s a very accurate method to employ.


Guest blog by Homeppl, tenant referencing software that provides innovative, intelligent, and comprehensive tenant referencing services at scale.

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