SCAMMERS posing as landlords in the UK are asking for large sums of money to view affordable properties, it is claimed.

Adverts on websites like Gumtree requesting cash in exchange for a viewing have sparked concerns from the Residential Landlord Association.

It says these online ads often show a very attractive and affordable flat. But when prospective tenants call to arrange a viewing they are usually told that the landlord lives far away and they must provide a deposit to secure a viewing. Sums can be as high as £1,500.

Those behind the scams appear to have cloned the logos of reputable websites, such as the RLA’s DepositGuard scheme.

Once the cash is paid they never hear from the scammers again.

“We would like to make it clear that no genuine landlord will ever ask for money to secure a viewing.” said Andrew Goodacre, chief executive of the RLA.

He added that the RLA said it has spoken to Gumtree demanding visible warnings on the website to stop more renters becoming victims.

“Often the victims in this type of fraud are young foreign students, who have limited knowledge of how the rental market works in the UK,” he said.

“The fact that our DepositGuard logo is being used in this manner is something we are taking extremely seriously and we have approached Gumtree asking for clear warnings about scams of this type to be included on its website.”

A spokesman for Gumtree said: “We do not tolerate fraud on our site. Our dedicated safety team identifies and removes scammers operating on Gumtree.

“We encourage anyone who falls victim to a scam to report it to us, the police and Action Fraud. We require that all Property ads on our site comply with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) requirements and all government regulations for property advertising.

“We recommend that all potential tenants check the relevant paperwork, ask to see proof of ownership before paying deposits or holding fees, and ensure a tenancy agreement is in place. Extensive safety advice for tenants and landlords can be found on the Gumtree Help Centre at the Staying Safe in Property page.”

Anyone who thinks they have been a victim of a scam should contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.