Date Published 20 February 2018
20th Mar 2017
In a recent episode of the 'Nightmare Tenants, Slum Landlords' show on Channel 5,one of its main features reported on a landlord's bad experience when using Gumtree to let her property.
The landlady, Vicky McNaught, opted for using Gumtree to list her property as it was far cheaper than using a letting agent. She was very pleasantly surprised when a seemingly professional took up a tenancy with promises of treating her property with the respect that it deserved. His references showed a young but glittering career in the city and his background of a private education; however after only a very short period of time the rent payments stopped.
Vicky admits in retrospect that she should have acted differently and said: "We've learnt that bad tenants are more likely to target sites like Gumtree because they hope they will be subjected to fewer checks. In the future, we'd always go through an agent - although even this has no guarantee. It's the law that needs to change to make landlords less vulnerable to unscrupulous tenants.'
Paul Shamplina, founder of a private tenant eviction firm who regularly appears on the show has seen this happen so many times.
Paul said: "This guy is a serial bad tenant. He has been evicted previously after running up costs of £30,000 in unpaid rent and stolen furniture from an overseas landlord. In Vicky's case, he used false references to secure the property.'
Shamplina hopes that the episode will serve as a warning to those landlords who are thinking about using sites that are free to advertise properties to rent.
Shamplina said: 'We've come across many similar cases in the past where we see serial bad tenants prey on less experienced landlords who let their properties on consumer websites. Unfortunately, the majority of these landlords are deceived by well educated con artists. With absolutely nothing in place to safeguard landlords, they find themselves in all sorts of trouble.'
"My advice would always be to use a credited letting agent who can let your property through the correct procedures and are up-to-date with all legislation in the private rented sector. However, for any landlords already using such sites then you need to be careful. Ensure you have thorough referencing checks done and look out for the telltale signs of a serial bad tenant. For example, are you being rushed by the tenant for them to move in as soon as possible?'
The Channel 5 show 'Nightmare Tenants, Slum Landlords' is in enjoying its third series. The program investigates the many types of problems encountered by and breakdowns between tenants and landlords that occur every day.
A Gumtree spokesperson issued a comment: 'We want all our users to have a positive experience and are committed to tackling fraud on our site, and educating people about how to avoid scams. We require that all Property ads on our site comply with Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) requirements and all government regulations for property advertising – a full list of rules in Property can be found on our website. We list prominent safety advice for landlords and prospective tenants alike, and recommend that all landlords meet their potential tenant, carry out thorough checks and ensure that a tenancy agreement is in place.
We encourage anyone that thinks they may have come across a scam to report it to us immediately through the ‘Report this ad' button. Our dedicated safety team can investigate and take action such as blocking the offender from the site.'