We're pleased to announce the launch of RentProfile - the UK's first online landlord checking service.
A few years ago my Co-Founder (and brother) David was the victim of a rental scam. It was this experience that led us to research the scale of the problem and start to think about ways to raise awareness and maybe even prevent this kind of fraud from happening in the first place.
We realised there is a compromise when seeking a rental today; either go through a letting agent which may charge excessive fees, or use a listings site where there's a chance of being scammed. It wasn't difficult to find fake listings on websites. Renters told us they were daunted by paying out thousands to a landlord (who is a stranger) but did so as they had little choice.
As the cost of renting and demand has increased the problem of fraud has become worse. Last year there was a 44% increase in reported online rental scams and the UK government estimates that over £1m is lost each week to fake landlords. In our own research we found that 4% of active private renters in the UK (440,000 people) have been the victim of a fake landlord scam. Awareness is greater than ever (thanks in part to TV shows) but the advice available doesn't always prevent bad experiences.
As a first for the industry RentProfile can verify a landlord’s credentials, preventing fake landlord fraud and providing some peace of mind before transferring a large sum of money. The verification includes identity, rental property ownership, history of housing prosecutions and reports from other renters. Currently earlybird landlords can sign up for free and create a landlord profile which can be shared with prospective tenants.
Landlords benefit from being alerted when somebody attempts to impersonate them or when a property is being advertised without their permission. By signing up you're also doing your bit to make it that much harder for the minority rogue landlords and scammers to operate. If you know a great landlord please invite them here.
Thank you to all the landlords and renters that have provided feedback so far (over 1000 to date!). We really appreciate the time you took to have a chat or complete one of our surveys. We'd also like to say a thank you to the organisations and individuals who have supported us.
If you have you any comments/ideas about the site, good or bad, general or specific then let us know below or send us a note.
We have some new features in the pipeline and look forward to sharing these with you soon.
Paul & David