If you’re renting, avoid these six rental scams.
1. Non-existent property
Some scammers use free advertising websites to gain money illegally from a property that doesn’t exist. Make sure that any adverts have phone numbers and email addresses, and check that these are correct. Make sure that the advert has photographs of the property and get an address.
2. No landlord
The land registry details the owner of a property, so you can find out if the landlord owns the property. According to the government’s website, a private tenant has the right to ‘know who your landlord is’. If the property is managed by an agency or someone else on behalf of the landlord, legally they have 21 days to give you this information, if you request it in writing, before they are fined.
3. Proof of funds scam
This is a scam where the landlord asks you to send a sum of money to a friend using a money transfer company, such as Western Union or Money Grant, and send the transaction details to prove you have the funds available. The details are then used to withdraw the funds with fake ID. Avoid paying money online.
4. Tenancy deposit scams
Legally, your deposit must be returned to you at the end of your tenancy, and the landlord must use a government-approved tenancy deposit scheme (TDS). These schemes mean your deposit is returned if you’ve met the terms of your rental agreement, haven’t damaged the property and paid all bills. One way to prove the property isn’t damaged is to use a property inventory app. A property inventory app uses technology so both the tenant and landlord can track the state of the property and anything that’s on the inventory.
5. Replacing a security deposit with a guarantor
Here, dodgy landlords request a guarantor instead of a security deposit. A deposit is protected by law and any deductions need to be proved. However, if a guarantor is given, they are then charged excessively when you leave the property as a way of getting fraudulent monetary gains. Make sure you have a deposit that is protected.
6. Too good to be true
If the rental property sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Go with your gut feelings. If the monthly rent is low, ask yourself why.