Don’t get scammed during your student accommodation search!

August 3, 2023

The college term is fast approaching and the scramble for student accommodation is once more underway. We now do more of our business online than ever before. This, combined with the accommodation crisis has created the perfect storm for a surge in rental scams.

Gardai have reported a 65% increase in accommodation scams since 2019. Students are under severe pressure at this time of year to find a place to live and can be vulnerable. Whether you’re starting out in college or a returning student, our top tips will help protect you from falling victim.

Warning Signs

A rental accommodation scam typically tries to trick you out of your money by pretending to offer you a property or room to rent. If the landlord says they are away or living outside the country and cannot show you the student letting in person, this is a major red flag. They’ll likely request a deposit from you and maybe one month’s rent to secure the room before any mention of a lease.

You may even be sent a false contract to sign or fake keys to make it more convincing. Another potential alarm bell is getting offered a rental without any questions being asked of you. For example, you receive an unsolicited email or text message offering you a place. This could include the real address and photos of properties which the scammer is already using on the rental sites.

Learn more about rental accommodation scams.

Protect yourself

It is common practice for scammers to advertise the same bogus properties in multiple scam attempts. They’ll use similar names, cover stories and contact you only through email, text, WhatsApp or other socials.

There are ways students can guard against these rental scams. Here are our main tips:


  • research the rent prices in the area you’re looking in, be wary if the price seems too cheap
  •  search properties on online maps to make sure the advertised address actually exists
  • view the property yourself in person before paying any deposit or rent
  • keep proper contact details for the landlord, agent or advertiser and copies of all emails/ phone messages between you both
  • get a written lease or rent book before handing over any money – it should explain the deposit, rent and details such as who pays the bills
  • obtain a proper receipt in writing for any payment you make


  • agree to rent a property without having seen it first in person
  • hand over any money if are unhappy about the condition of the accommodation
  •  accept keys as being real without having tried all the locks yourself first
  • use cash to pay a deposit – by using card/bank transfer, you may then be able to get money back if something goes wrong
  • transfer any money without having carried out all the relevant checks
  • make any payments until you have been given the written lease and keys that fit!

If you get scammed

Contact your bank or credit card company immediately if you have transferred money online or given your bank details to someone. Your bank can cancel your cards and secure your account. You may be able to get the transaction reversed through a chargeback from your card provider.

Report the incident to your local Garda station. Doing this may stop a scammer altogether and save other people from becoming victims.

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