Tenants who move after renting properties are being warned they could become victims of fraud.
Royal Mail and the National Landlords Association (NLA) are urging tenants across the county to update their address details or take out a Redirection service when they move to help guard against identity theft and financial fraud.
A new survey, carried out by NLA, has revealed that mail and sensitive personal documents are the sixth most common item left behind by renters.
Nearly one in ten of the 1,364 landlords questioned stated that they have found or received sensitive personal information such as bank statements, payslips, utility bills, chequebooks and even passports when a renter has moved out.
Almost one in 20 said they had to report an item they had found to the police.
Richard Lambert, CEO of the National Landlords Association, said: “With a quarter of tenants moving on from a property after just a year, it is no surprise that many forget to inform their bank or building society of their new address.
“Recent ONS figures show that application fraud cases - when fraudsters open an account using fake or stolen documents in someone else’s name - rose by 14 per cent last year. This means that renters who don’t update their address details, or take out a Redirection service to their new home, are putting themselves at risk of identity theft leading to financial fraud.”
Jim Conning, managing director of Data Services, at Royal Mail, said: “It is interesting - and worrying - to see the range of items that tenants leave behind when moving on from a property.
“We would always advise renters to not only think about the items they can see when they are moving but also the external services that are linked to the property in their name.
“Taking out a Redirection means that your personal details come with you giving you the peace of mind to settle into your new place knowing that your identity and personal details are safe.”
Clothes top the list of items left behind according to the study with 14 per cent of landlords finding items including underwear, socks and baby clothes around their properties.
Toys come a close second with more than one in ten property owners unearthing all manner of playthings from a giant seven foot teddy bear to a bouncy castle.
The third most common item left behind is animals.
Landlords reported finding ferrets, snakes and even a tank full of live pet sea monkeys.
Animals aren’t the only living creatures to be left behind by renters.
Landlords said that they have found people in their empty properties.
In Rochester one came across a previous tenant’s 15-year-old son while another stumbled across an ex-boyfriend.
Other surprising items include the ashes of a dead relative, 14 car tyres, a L800 BMW, a 1964 Vauxhall Victor, 20 bikes, three didgeridoos, four sunbeds, two sets of false teeth, a drum kit and a prosthetic leg.
The top ten items most commonly left behind when a tenant moves out are:
1. Clothes (14%)
2. Toys (14%)
3. Animals (11%)
4. Exercise equipment (10%)
5. Furniture/bedding (10%)
6. Mail and important personal documents (8%)
7. Electrical items including kettles, fridges and TVs (7%)
8. Food (7%)
9. Cars and car parts (6%)
10. Gardening/plants/tools (6%)
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