Do your homework and avoid student accommodation scams
August 12, 2019
The start of the college term is just around the corner and for many new and returning students, it’s time to start looking at accommodation for the academic year. With affordable accommodation hard to come by, scammers are likely to try and use the situation to prey on potential renters. Whether it’s your first time moving or you’re a seasoned renter, we have some tips to help you avoid rental scams.
Do your homework
Don’t rush in to the first property you see, look around and see what the general standard for the area is. Be wary of rooms that are substantially cheaper than the average for the area – as a general rule, if something looks too good to be true, it probably is!
Check properties on Google maps to make sure the address actually exists. Be wary if the landlord says they are out of the country and cannot meet you. Some scammers will ask you to pay a deposit and rent upfront in exchange for keys which turn out to be fake.
Keep your paperwork
Keep a copy of all emails that you have with any potential landlords. If something is discussed on the phone, send a follow up email to confirm that you both have the same understanding of what was agreed.
Be sure to get a signed lease or licence before handing over any money and check that it explains the deposit, rent and details such as who pays the bills, if you’re allowed have friends stay over and if you’re able to stay on weekends.
Organise a viewing
Always view a property before paying a deposit or any rent. It’s important to make sure that the place actually exists and also that it’s in good condition. Bring a friend if you can as it can be beneficial to have a second opinion.
If you’re renting in a shared house, try talk to your potential flatmates as well as your landlord. Who you live with can be as important as where you live, and potential flatmates may give you more insight into what life in a particular property is like than the landlord.
Watch how you pay
You should always avoid paying cash for accommodation. Try to pay using a secure method, such as by card or bank transfer, as you may be able to reverse the transaction if it turns out to be a scam. It can also act as proof your rent has been paid. Also make sure that you always get a receipt, to show proof of both deposit paid and rent paid.
If you come across a scam
If you have transferred money online and think you have been scammed, the first thing you should do is to contact your bank or credit card company, as they might be able to help by cancelling your credit or debit card or stopping a transaction from going through your account.
You should also contact your local Garda station. Also, tell us about any scams that you, your friends, families or colleagues have experienced. Building awareness about scams helps to put a stop to them. Find out more about accommodation scams.
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