Many students will be on the hunt for accommodation ahead of the new college term, and the Property Services Regulatory Authority (PSRA) are urging those seeking lettings to "exercise vigilance".
The warning comes after the PSRA was made aware of a number of bogus letting agents and their attempts to extract financial payments from prospective tenants.
These bogus agents appear in the main to operate online and are purporting to use a PSRA licence number. All Letting Agents, Auctioneers, Estate Agents and Management Agents operating in the Republic of Ireland must hold a PSRA licence to provide a property service.
The individual licence is a credit card size licence which has the licensee name, photographic identification and a unique 12 digit PSRA licence number. When using a property service provider, it is advisable to ask the property service provider to show you their licence which they are obliged to have available for inspection.
"The month of August is a time when students are starting or returning to college or university and a higher number of lettings take place," CEO of the PSRA Maeve Hogan said in a statement.
"Students seeking to rent accommodation are strongly advised to exercise vigilance to ensure they do not fall foul of bogus letting agents and are not using an unlicensed operator."
The PSRA publishes a public register of Licensed Property Services Providers where you can check the validity of a licence. The register can be found on www.psr.ie and displays both the licensee name and licence number – it is important to check that both the name and number of the agent you are in contact with correspond with the details displayed on the register.
If you are in any doubt as to whether a letting agent is licensed, you can contact the PSRA on 046 9033800 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Unlicensed letting agents, auctioneers, estate agents and management agents are breaking the law and do not provide any consumer protection. Anyone aware of unlicensed operators is urged to contact the PSRA at email@example.com.