Finding rented accommodation can be challenging at the best of times. In the current market, it is quite difficult to find a safe, secure, and affordable home, and easy to fall victim to a rental scam.
We advise anyone looking to rent, never ever agree or hand over money to take a property without first physically viewing the property and ensuring you are happy with the property and the tenancy terms and conditions. Always exercise caution and not rush into a decision, particularly if you have doubts.
Types of Rental Scams
Rental scams occur throughout the year and fall into three broad categories:
- The scammer claims to be out of the country and can’t 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 don’t work and the landlord has disappeared.
The Do’s and Don’ts to Avoid a Rental Scam
- Do Inspect the Property in Person: Whenever possible, visit the property in person and take a picture of the landlord’s or letting agent’s photo identification before making any payments. Avoid only relying on online photos or virtual tours.
- Do Use Secure Payment Methods: Use secure payment platforms or methods that offer you protection. Avoid making cash payments or transferring money directly to someone without verifying their identity and always try to see the property in person before paying.
- Do Ask for a Contract: Request a written contract (also known as a license or tenancy agreement) that clearly explains the terms and conditions of the rental agreement, including rent amount, deposit and any additional fees.
- Do Trust Your Instincts: If something seems too good to be true, trust your instincts and investigate further before making any payment. Scammers will often try to rush you into making decisions but take your time and do your research.
- Do Seek Advice: Threshold is happy to offer you advice if you are unsure or suspicious about a property. Threshold is available from 9am-9pm on our freephone helpline, 1800 454 454 or on webchat on our website, www.threshold.ie.
- Don’t Pay Upfront Without Verification: Avoid making any upfront payments or deposits before verifying the property and the landlord’s identity. When viewing a property, take a photo of the landlord or letting agent’s photo identification for extra security.
- Don’t Rush into Decisions: Scammers often try to pressure you into making quick decisions. While it is difficult to find accommodation, do not feel pressured to skip any research you need to conduct.
- Don’t Share Personal Information Online: Be careful about sharing personal information on public platforms, especially social media, where scammers often try to find potential victims.
- Don’t Ignore Red Flags: Pay attention to red flags (suspicious situations), like exceptionally low rent, a landlord living abroad, foreign bank account details or inconsistent information.
- Don’t Use Unsecured Payment Methods: Avoid using unsecured payment methods like wire transfers or cryptocurrency for rental transactions. Bank transfers are the preferred method to pay your deposit and rent.
What To Do
Rental scams are becoming increasingly easy to fall victim to. Your reporting could mean stopping a scammer altogether and helping to prevent other people from becoming victims.
If you come across an ad you are suspicious of, contact us. We can help you verify if the ad is legitimate or not.
While we cannot help you recover money lost or track down a scammer, we can help get the word out about scams to other potential renters.
If you think you have been a victim of such a fraud please report to your local garda station.