Students looking for accommodation in Galway are being urged to be cautious before committing to a private residence, to make sure the property fits the needs of all tenants, and to watch out for rental scams.
With Leaving Cert results being issued this week to thousands of students preparing to come to NUI Galway and the GMIT, the NUIG Students Union has issued advice on what students need to watch out for, and be mindful of.
Rental scams: Scammer claims to be out of the country so cannot show you the property but requests a deposit. Scammer is living at the property, and shows a number of people around. They get a deposit from several people and then flee with the cash. The transaction appears to have gone smoothly until the renter finds that the keys don’t work and the landlord has disappeared.
When viewing a property: Take your time. Ensure all the necessities are there - washing machine, furnishings, and that all gas and electrical appliances are in good working order; take photos of the property and highlight any damages already there; if there are any repairs to be made in the property, get it in writing from the landlord or agency that these problems will be rectified before handing over your deposit.
When moving in: Request a viewing prior to the move in date to ensure that all outstanding issues have been rectified; ensure the house is well ventilated and that heating sources are identified prior to signing a contract/lease; Insist that a building energy rating certificate is provided prior to signing the contract, to get an idea of the cost for heating; for online learning, check what the broadband speeds and deals are in the neighbourhood to make sure you will be well connected.
Payments and legal issues: Avoid paying the deposit in cash and ensure you get a receipt for any money exchanged. You are legally entitled to a receipt so make sure to insist on one; Make sure it is clearly outlined in your lease which utility bills you must pay; ensure you are clear on the duration of the tenancy. If you sign a lease and leave early you may be liable to pay outstanding rent; and take out contents insurance as the landlord’s policy will not cover your personal possessions.
“Finding accommodation can be extremely stressful and people tend to rush into it,” said SU president, Róisín Nic Lochlainn. “It is paramount you follow these guidelines to avoid scams and ensure that the house you live in will be sustainable for you and your friends. This will be where you stay for at least nine months.”
Students still seeking accommodation should check www.nuigstudentpad.ie