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Call for landlord photo ID to stop sub let scams
26 June 2015
Landlords should offer photographic evidence of home ownership before renting out property to stop sub-letting scammers from ripping off unwitting tenants, said a judge.
The call came from Judge William Wood as he sentenced Heidi Korn to eight months in prison for posing as a bogus landlord to con a young couple out of £1,800 as a deposit to rent a flat she did not own.
Korn rented the £500,000 apartment in Streatham Hill, London, for £1,600 a month after answering a ‘for rent’ advert on web site Gumtree.
The owners told her they were leaving the country and shortly after they departed, Korn took the deposit from another couple. She intended to pocket £200 a month but her scheme unravelled when documents she had forged were accidentally posted to the owner’s mother.
Police were called and she was charged with fraud.
During her trial at Inner London Crown Court, the judge asked police for a list of similar crimes in Lambeth and Southwark, London.
He was told of 14 similar cases in the previous five months.
“Such crime must be deterred because it is all too easy to con landlords and results in serious harm to many people. It is grossly dishonest. It involves planning and prolonged deception of the victims,” the judge told the court.
“There are multiple victims, both those who have a home to let and also those who believe that they are going to rent one.
“It is worth proposing that when a private landlord seeks references from a prospective tenant he or she should provide proof of ownership and photographic proof of identity.
“If this becomes the norm it will be much more difficult to commit this fraud.”
Often, buy to let homes and apartments are turned into brothels or cannabis farms when sub-let.