Potential tenants are being warned about fraudsters who are pretending to be landlords and charging for viewings.
The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) has raised concerns unsuspecting people are paying a significant amount of money to view a property that is apparently available to rent at a very attractive price.
A number of advertisements have appeared in recent months on websites such as Gumtree describing appealing properties in key areas. These listings often feature various official logs, making it seem the landlords are above board.
However, when replying to such ads, prospective tenants are being encouraged to pay a deposit to secure the right to view - in some cases, this amount is around £1,500.
However, once the deposit has been paid, the so-called landlords do not reply to any further contact and disappear with the money.
“We would like to make it clear that no genuine landlord will ever ask for money to secure a viewing. Often the victims in this type of fraud are young foreign students, who have limited knowledge of how the rental market works in the UK,’ said Andrew Goodacre, chief executive of the RLA.
He added: “The fact that our DepositGuard logo is being used in this manner is something we are taking extremely seriously and we have approached Gumtree asking for clear warnings about scams of this type to be included on its website.”