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Guideline to avoid rental scams

In the modern age it is common place for tenants and landlords to scour the internet for properties and agents. The popularity of property portals, agent websites, online classifieds etc. have ensured the client has an array options that best suit their needs. However, with all the advantages of technology, there are serious pitfalls and we’ve identified many rental scammers in the past.

There seem to be continuous reports in the media of a potential tenant being scammed out of their deposit and even their first month’s rental by someone who actually did not own the property that was advertised as “to let”.

This can have serious financial implications on the person duped out of their money. So, here are a few guidelines to follow:

  •  Do your research. Know what property in your area is worth. Make use of similar listings in your area to gauge the rental averages. When it is too good to be true, be careful.
  • Alarm bells should go off when bogus ‘landlords’ are perpetually unable to make the appointment, or leave you waiting for hours at the supposed property only to never pitch. Another common excuse is that they are attending to a sick relative and can’t bring you the keys but expect you to pay a ‘security deposit’.
  • Don’t be fooled by bogus landlords who only show you the outside of the property and are not willing to take you in as the current tenants ‘don’t like to be disturbed’. Again. they usually expect a security deposit due to the enormous interest in the property. Beware.
  • Request the address and photographs if they’re not displayed in the advert. Scammers tend to steal  images from other listings who have either already been occupied or are located in other regions.
  • Never go alone to view a rental property, be vigilant and never take any cash with you if you are planning to pay a deposit – even if the property is in a safe neighbourhood.
  • When you sign the lease, you should make sure that the address on the lease corresponds with the street address or flat number of the property you have viewed.

Taking a look at the few guidelines above, and there are many more we could unfortunately not fit. it is imperative that you analyse the listing and following correspondence with a Detective’s eye. Understand the dangers. That is why our best advice is to rent through a reputable letting agency that already has all the paperwork on the property, uses proper lease documentation and will keep your deposit in a proper trust account. At Harcourts Maynard Burgoyne our rental specialists are always available to assist.

By Shaun Luyt
Harcourts Maynard Burgoyne
Rental Operations Manager