“Nightmare Tenants, Slum Landlords” airs its second episode of the third series tonight (Wednesday 15th March) at 9pm on Channel 5 and explores the fallout one landlord faces after deciding to let her property through Gumtree.
Despite not knowing much about how Gumtree operates, Vicki McNaught made the decision to list her property on the site as it was a cheaper alternative to using a letting agent. Initially, Vicky was delighted when a young professional moved into her flat promising to look after the place. He boasted of a private education and his references showed a great career in the city, but it didn’t take long before he stopped paying the rent.
Looking back, Vicky would do things very differently, saying: "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 Landlord Action and Brand Ambassador of Hamilton Fraser, who stars in the show, knows all too well of these situations.
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.”
Paul wants this episode to act as a serious warning to landlords about using free classified websites to advertise their property to rent.
He 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?”
“Nightmare Tenants, Slum Landlords” is a twelve part series on Channel 5. The programme delves into the dark side of the buy-to-let market showing the complexities landlords and tenants face on a daily basis.
A Gumtree spokesperson commented: “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 work closely with the Residential Landlord Association (RLA) and also 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.”