Gardaí advise students on how to spot potential rental scams

Henry Street Garda Station.

LIMERICK gardaí are warning students seeking accommodation to exercise caution when dealing with potential landlords.

According to Garda John Finnerty of Henry Street Garda Station, there is a “spike” in the number of rental scams reported at this time of the year “when a new generation of third level students are seeking accommodation”.

Garda Finnerty added: “Because of the rental shortage and the pressure to source accommodation, a number of students in Limerick have fallen victim to rental scams in recent weeks.”

The scams usually fall into three categories:

  1. The scammer claims to be out of the country and can’t show you the accommodation and requests a deposit.
  2. The scammer is living at the property. He shows a number of people around, requests a deposit from each and disappears with the money.
  3.  The transaction appears normal until the renter finds that the keys don’t work and the landlord has disappeared. Therefore people need to establish that the house exists and that it is available for rent in the first place .

To avoid falling victim to such a scam, Garda Finnerty advises students and other renters:

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  1. Ideally only do business with established bon-fide rental agencies.
  2. Always meet a prospective landlord in the accommodation to be rented.
  3. Ask for identification, a driver’s licence or photo identification of landlord or letting agent etc. (Take a photo of the document on your phone).
  4. Pay the deposit to the landlord or agent and not the persons leaving the property or courier or any other person
  5. Use cheques or bank drafts to pay the deposit and keep copies of receipts of payments and any correspondence.
  6. Ensure keys fit, and sign the rental contract, prior to payment of deposit.