Report rental fraud
If you think you have fallen victim to a rental scam, you should first contact the relevant authority of your country. You should also alert the police in the UK by reporting rental fraud online.
Renting student accommodation
Students searching for a property to rent whilst at university are often looking at areas of a city they aren't familiar with. There is usually competition with other students when searching for a good place to live.
Scammers know when students are due to start university and that they'll be looking for somewhere to live. These fraudsters advertise rooms or homes to rent, including photos and contact details. The reality is, that many of these adverts are placed on various websites and appear to be genuine rental opportunities.
Rental advice for students
Students can protect themselves from becoming a victim of rental fraud. There are ways to help identify available properties and landlords;
- checking the room/home for rent actually exists. Visit the property before paying money or deposit
- ensure the contact for the property is the landlord and owner of the property, by asking for their accreditation or checking with the local council of the area
- do as many searches and checks to ensure all is above board.
Not only does rental fraud cause financial loss but it can also be a stressful start to a student’s new term at university. Especially with some students arriving from abroad to find they have nowhere to live.
Choosing a place to live
As this type of fraud is difficult to discover, we advise students to take the following precautions when selecting a place to live;
- don't feel pressured to accept/secure a rental property if you have not viewed or visited the flat, house or room
- don't feel pressured into paying advanced rent or deposit payments before viewing or visiting a property.
Research the rental property and landlord
Help protect yourself from rent fraud by taking note of the following key points;
- if the property seems too good to be true, it probably is
- check the property exists by doing some research on Google
- seek help from the university accommodation service, employer or use a reputable rental or letting agent. Usually, the local authority (council) or university have an approved list of trusted providers and landlords
- ask the landlord for the tenancy agreement and safety certificates to confirm they have a genuine connection to the property
- contact any organisations that the landlord claims to be associated with to check they are who they claim to be
- your deposit must be held in a government approved deposit scheme. Your landlord must provide you with a copy, including any supporting paperwork
- don’t be pressured into sending any money in advance to ‘hold’ a room or property until you are certain the property exists and the landlord is genuine
- be cautious of sending money via a money transfer service. Criminals can use details from the receipt to withdraw money from other locations.
Further information on student rental fraud is available from National Union of Students (NUS) . You can also check online to see if your landlord is an accredited member of the National Landlords Association.