Things to watch out for Prospective tenants who are renting for the first time, or are new to the country and unfamiliar with the procedures for securing a rental property, can be particulary vulnerable.
Whilst there are several types of scam operated by fake landlords, they generally follow the same pattern. Some of the key signs are detailed below:
1. After interest has been shown in the property ad, usually via an email enquiry, the landlord often claims they have had a bad experience in the past or travelled far to show the property only to be let down by the prospective tenant. They will request a deposit payment before the viewing as a signal of your sincere intent to attend the viewing and/or take the property. Well, the only sincere intent here is to take your money. Never send money to a potential landlord in advance of a viewing no matter what they say or by whatever means. Stick to this and you can’t go far wrong.
2. The property pictures, location and level of rent are all too good to be true. Well, you know want they say, if it looks too good to be true…!
3. The landlord may request that you prove you have funds for the property and are not a ‘time waster’ by asking for a payment to be transferred, not directly to them, but to a friend or relative through money transfer services such as Western Union or Moneygram. They will ask you to forward a copy of the receipt as proof of being in possession of the requisite funds. You may think this is safe as you are transferring to someone you know but the ‘landlord’ will masquerade as your friend/relative to whom the money has been sent and use your receipt copy to get details of the transaction and take out the cash from the money transfer service.
4. Often the rent includes all bills and there is little restriction of tenant suitability. It is more normal for a landlord to make an effort to detail who they would like to rent to.
5. The landlord may even send fake documentation or information about themselves to gain credibility. This is usually a part of the request to take your money in advance of a viewing. Don’t be fooled.
6. The property listing may link out to a listing on another website, a site through which it is normal to make payments without advance viewing such as holiday or short term accommodation.
Watch out. It is likely that the listing on the secondary site is in fact a replica of the real site. You will be led to believe the money is going into a reputable site whereas it will be going straight to the ‘landlord’ and it is likely you will never see that money again.
As I’m sure most of you know I like to drink! I’m not only doing this to lose weight but also to raise money for a charity very close to my heart. My Nan was taken from me and the rest of my family what will be 8 years ago in November after she lost her battle to bowel cancer. So for her and the millions of other people with cancer I am going to go sober for October. Please donate and let’s help someone beat this horrible thing we call cancer!