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Big referencing firms are too sloppy when checking tenants, claims upstart proptech

Alexander Siedes says poor referencing is why the private rental sector has such high rent default and eviction rates.

Nigel Lewis

referencing homeppl

A proptech firm has called out its big referencing rivals as being ‘sloppy’ with their tenant checks and using them as a loss-leader to upsell other products rather than a core capability.

Alexander Siedes, founder of five-year-old platform Homeppl claims this is why the private rented sector has an 8% rent default rate and why 1.6% of tenancies end up in court as possession claims.

The 34-year-old, who started up the referencing company following a stint working for the Israeli army as a dark ops expert, has made the comments at the same time as warning that letting agents face increasingly sophisticated fraudulent ‘digital nomad’ tenants intent on criminality.

The company has offered one example of a man from London two months ago who approached three different letting agents in the capital to rent homes.

Unluckily for the fraudster, all the agents involved were Homeppl clients and the company’s system picked up on his various attempt to hoodwink negotiators with fake references.

Fake and counterfeit

This included a made-up bank statement that the company’s software spotted had been created with Photoshop, fake email addresses for employers that did not exist but which were all linked digitally and therefore suspect, faked landlord and employer references, made-up salaries of between £72,000 and £115,000 and counterfeit websites purporting to be his ‘employer’.

“We run financial analysis, stress and reaction testing, domain and email tracking, data enriched online searches and document verification to identify fake documents and references, and fraudulent activity,” says Siedes.

“As a result, our system detects that 1.5% of all clients’ transactions are fraudulent and we have 0% defaults.

“In order to try and help agents, we offer a free fraud review so they can see if any of our ‘catches’ have evaded their existing systems and are in their properties.”

Read more about fraudulent tenant references.

June 25, 2021

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