Gardaí warn public to watch out for rental scams

Gardaí are advising people to be wary of rental scams, particularly at this time of year when students are returning to college.

While rental scams occur throughout the year, there is a spike due to a new generation of third level students seeking accommodation.

The scams fall into three broad categories: the scammer claims to be out of the country and cannot show you the property and requests a deposit; 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 transaction appears normal until the renter finds that the keys do not work and the landlord has disappeared.

Therefore, people need to establish that the house exists and is available for rent, the identity of landlord/agent, and whether he/she is authorised to rent the property. Here are some other useful tips:

Ideally, only do business with established bona-fide rental agencies.

Always meet a prospective landlord in the accommodation to be rented.

Ask for identification, a driver’s licence, or photo identification of the landlord or letting agent.

Pay the deposit directly to the landlord.

Use cheques or bank drafts to pay the deposit and keep copies of receipts of payments and any correspondence.

Ensure keys open the door and sign the rental contract prior to paying the deposit.

If the rent price sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. Caution is advised.

The Residential Tenancies Board rent index provides students with important benchmark information and is an authoritative guide as to the actual rents being charged by landlords adjacent to all universities, ITs and other third level colleges. Visit www.rtb.ie

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