It is a busy time of year for everyone looking for accommodation, but unfortunately, some people use this time to scam those who are searching for somewhere to live.
We have not been made aware of any IT Carlow students affected by these scams, but it is important to be aware of what to look out for.
One of the most common scams out there at the moment is where people are copying actual rental properties and advertising them as their own. They may have pictures that they can show you of the property but will not allow you to visit the property to view it. This is a horrible situation to find yourself in because you may not be aware that this is a scam until you turn up at the property you have agreed to rent to realise there is an issue.
You should be wary if a landlord claims to be out of the country and can’t show you the property, but still requests a deposit. This is one of the oldest scams going so watch out for it.
There are a couple of hints and tips you should be aware of to help avoid becoming a victim to these scams.
- Look at as many properties in the area you wish to rent. Carlow is a small town in comparison to other towns/cities so don’t be afraid to look at properties all around the town. The prices can vary depending on what is included in the rent and the location of the property. If there is a property that has a really low-rent, there is probably a reason for that.
- When you get the address of the property go to google maps and have a look at the property on Google Street View. Make sure it looks like the property advertised.
- Don’t pay any money to a landlord for a deposit etc. until you have met the landlord at the property, are happy with the condition of the property and have signed a lease agreement. You should be wary if a landlord claims to be out of the country and can’t show you the property, but still requests a deposit. This is one of the oldest scams going so watch out for it.
- You should bring a friend or family member with you when you are going to view the property. It is always helpful to have a second opinion, and they might spot something you missed – especially if you have never rented previously.
- When paying a deposit or rent, you should avoid cash as much as possible. Also, avoid transferring money through the Westen Union as this is untraceable. If you are transferring money to a landlord/agent, do so through a bank transfer. If you pay by card, you may be able to get the transaction reversed if something goes wrong. If you do have to pay with cash, make sure to get a proper receipt that is dated and signed by the landlord.
- Check the lease agreement is suitable for you, especially the duration of the lease. It should state what you are required to pay and what is included in that. Some landlords will include bills in the rent payment; others won’t so it is important to check that out before signing any lease.
- Check the keys provided work in the locks at the property.
We strongly advise that you view the accommodation yourself before you pay any money or sign any contract/lease agreement. We realise this may be difficult for students coming from abroad, but it may be worth staying in short-term accommodation (e.g., a hotel or hostel) for a few days while you view different properties. If you require assistance with this, please contact your Welfare Officer on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Remember if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
If you have fallen victim to a scam and you paid money to the *landlord* through a bank transfer or a card payment, contact your bank immediately.
You should then contact your local Garda station.