Renters and students warned over accommodation scams

Red flags include if person claims to be away and cannot show property - but seeks deposit

Gardaí have provided  tips for new renters to help them to avoid falling into a scam situation. The tips include only doing business with “established bona fide rental agencies”. File photograph: iStockPhoto

Gardaí have provided tips for new renters to help them to avoid falling into a scam situation. The tips include only doing business with “established bona fide rental agencies”. File photograph: iStockPhoto

 

Renters including students in particular have been warned by gardaí of a number of scams being operated by fraudsters.

Gardaí have identified three categories of rental scams. The first red flag is if the scammer claims to be out of the country and cannot show the renter the property - but still requests a deposit.

Another category is when “the scammer is living at the property and shows a number of people around, gets a deposit from several people and disappears with the money”, the statement said.

The third type is when the transaction appears normal until the renter finds the keys do not work and the landlord has disappeared.

Gardaí have urged people to establish that the house exists first and that is available for rent. They have also advised renters to make sure they know the identity of the landlord or agent and that they are authorised to rent the property.

Gardaí have provided some tips for new renters to help them to avoid falling into a scam situation. The tips include only doing business with “established bona fide rental agencies”, always meeting a prospective landlord in the accommodation to be rented, asking for and taking a picture of the landlord’s ID, and ensuring that keys fit and turn the lock before paying a deposit.

Cheques and bank drafts

They have also advised future renters to pay deposits to landlords and not to those vacating a property. Renters are also advised to use cheques or bank drafts to pay a deposit and to keep copies of receipts of payments and any correspondence.

While rental scams occur throughout the year, there is currently a spike due to a new generation of third-level students seeking accommodation.

In a statement, USI president Michael Kerrigan reiterated Garda warnings and added: “Students are handing [over] up to two months’ rent as a deposit, and this kind of money being stolen can have a serious impact on a student’s ability to afford college for the coming year.

“It’s a shame that people are taking advantage of students like this.

“If you’re worried that you’re being led into a scam, alert the gardaí or your students’ union right away. It is always better to be safe. Don’t rush into any arrangement that looks too good to be true.”

For more information, see rtb.ie