Landlords are being warned about using Gumtree ahead of tonight’s episode of Nightmare Tenants, Slum Landlords on Channel 5.
The second episode of the third series airs tonight (Wednesday 15th March) at 9pm on Channel 5. It explores the fallout one landlord faced after deciding to let her property through Gumtree.
Despite not knowing much about how Gumtree works, Vicki McNaught decided to list her property on the site, as it was a cheaper alternative to using a letting agent.
Initially, McNaught was delighted when a young professional moved into the flat, promising to look after the place. He boasted of a private eduction and his references showed off a great career in the City. But it didn’t take long before he stopped paying the rent.
Looking back, McNaught would do things very differently. She says: “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, the Founder of Landlord Action and Brand Ambassador of Hamilton Fraser, who stars in the show, knows these situations all too well.
He comments on the case: “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.”
Shamplina wants the episode to act as a serious warning to landlords about using free classified websites, such as Gumtree, to advertise their property to let.
He says: “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 12-part series on Channel 5. The programme delves into the dark side of the lettings market, showing the struggles landlords and tenants face on a daily basis.