Gardaí are advising people to be wary of rental scams, particularly at this time of year when students are returning to college.
Scams occur throughout the year, but there is a significant spike at this time of year as first time renters seek university accommodation.
The scams identified by Gardaí fall into three categories. In the first, the scammer claims to be out of the country and can’t show you the property, but still requests a deposit.
The second is when the scammer is living at the property and shows a number of people around, gets a deposit from several people and disappears with the money.
The third involves everything looking fine and dandy, until the renter finds that the keys don’t work and the landlord has disappeared.
According to Gardaí, there are a number of steps renters can take to avoid being burnt by these scams.
1. Ideally only do business with established bon-fide rental agencies.
2. Always meet a prospective landlord in the accommodation to be rented.
3. Ask for identification, a driver’s licence or Photo identification of landlord or letting agent. etc. (Take a photo of the document on your phone)
4. Pay the deposit to the Landlord and not the persons leaving the property/ courier other person.
5. Use cheques or bank drafts to pay the deposit and keep copies of receipts of payments and any correspondence.
6. Ensure keys fit, open door lock and sign rental contract, prior to payment of deposit.
According to Gardaí, people need to establish that the house exists and that is available for rent and the identity of landlord.
It's also important that the renter establishes that the agent, where applicable, is reputable, and that the person renting the property is authorised to rent the property.