Fake lettings on offer

Some letting agents in London are creating fake adverts duplicating pictures of properties to lure prospective renters, a BBC investigation has found.

A regulatory body says the practice, known as ghost-listing, is on the rise because of the “massive shortage of housing” and “huge influx of people”.

One homeowner found her own flat marketed for rent on a website.

It involves agents stealing listings from competitors’ websites, and in some cases using details of homes not currently on the market.

The Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) said ghost-listing was on the rise because of a lack of rental stock.

David Cox, from the regulatory body, said property that is not available will be used on a website to try and entice members of the public to look at the stock that is.

The practice is illegal under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations, 2008.

Mr Cox said: “We’re hearing anecdotal evidence that this is increasing.

“It’s in all parts of London, from the high-end properties in central London to average-priced properties in east and south London.

“It’s because the agents don’t have the stock. There is a massive shortage of housing and a huge influx of people.

“The government statistics suggest for every one house built, four more households are created.”