News and Press

How many tenants aren't who they say they are?

A fifth of the UK population now lives in privately rented accommodation, accounting for 4.7 million households. Renting is now at its highest level since records began, jumping eight per cent in the last decade. The average tenant now resides in a property for 20 months, which is down from the average two years of a decade ago. This means that that there are now more tenancy agreements being drawn up than ever. But what has this got to do with identity fraud?

Well, according to new research from the US a staggering three per cent of rental applications begin with a forged ID. This allows potential renters to hide everything from a bad credit history to a criminal record. It also means they can rack up rental arrears and scarper without a trace, moving onto the next property and ID in order to live rent free.

Currently there are no corresponding figures for the UK, but given that identity fraud is as much of a problem here as it is across The Pond, there is no reason to assume that the figures will be much different for our rentals market.

In the US synthetic IDs are being blamed for this form of fraud, in particular the use of deceased data in combination with fake data, as these are easy to create and difficult to detect. It is well known that credit providing sectors such as financial services and retailers are at risk from ID fraud, but so too it seems are estate agents, who have a duty of care to their landlord clients. Putting in place a simple solution such as deceased fraud prevention product such as Halo which can check the credentials of rental applicants could quickly and easily help protect the rentals market against this form of fraud.

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