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10th Nov 2022

Tenant tried to sell landlord’s £400k house without him finding out

Charlie Herbert

Tenant tried to sell landlord's £400k house without him finding out

Police labelled it a ‘truly brazen crime’

A tenant has been jailed after trying to sell his landlord’s house for over £400,000 just a fortnight after moving into the property.

Andrew Smith, 41, listed his landlord’s property in Cambridge with a fake estate agent two weeks after he was handed the keys to the house.

He had initially claimed he was moving to the area for work.

The sale of the house went as far as one potential buyer agreeing a price with Smith, and even visiting the property on Argyle Street, Cambridge, with a drainage surveyor.

Police also revealed that, shortly after moving into the property, Smith had also made payments to a furniture rental company which provides furniture for show properties.

But when neighbours told the would-be buyer that they thought the three-bed house was being rented by Smith, suspicions were raised.

They then spoke with the actual letting agent and the police, where it was revealed that all the documents provided by Smith were fraudulent and that he didn’t actually own the property.

On Wednesday, Cambridgeshire Police tweeted: “A tenant who tried to sell the house he rented without his landlord’s knowledge has been jailed.

“He was only caught out in his ‘truly brazen crime’ when a prospective buyer conducted a drain survey at the property.”

Smith was arrested in Bedford before admitting to fraud by false representation and entering into money laundering.

He was sentenced at Brighton Magistrates’ Court to two years and six months behind bars on Friday, November 4.

Speaking about the crime, Detective Constable Dan Harper said: “This is an almost unbelievable and truly brazen crime, which saw an innocent buyer almost part with more than £400,000 for a property that was never for sale in the first place.

“The investigation has been long and detailed and we have worked tirelessly to make sure justice has been served.”

According to the Law Society, property fraud is on the rise in the UK, with fraudsters constantly using different methods.

They explain: “You should look out for anything that seems unusual or suspicious, and think about the transaction as a whole. Usually there will be more than one sign that fraud is being committed.”

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