Students looking for accommodation warned of rental scams
Students looking for university accommodation are being targeted by potential fraudsters in rental scams, warn Warwickshire's Consumer Empowerment Partnership, led by Warwickshire County Council Trading Standards and Warwickshire CAB.
Students, hooked by offers of cheaper than normal rents, are asked for large deposits or sometimes full payment upfront to secure properties. But the offers are bogus and the fraudster ‘landlords’ disappear!
Some fraudsters make themselves appear even more bona fide by gaining access to properties which they then use to show prospective tenants around, giving the impression that the properties are vacant and under their control.
There have also been cases of fraudsters renting out properties that have already been rented out, or have been rented to multiple victims at the same time. Any payments made will be lost to the tenants.
Janet Faulkner, Head of Warwickshire Trading Standards Service, said:
“Students can ill afford to lose out in scams like these. However, by following our tips they can better protect themselves against fraudsters.”
- Do not send money upfront. If possible pay by any deposit by credit card at the letting agent’s office when formal contracts are signed.
- Beware of property adverts that do not give the property address or a UK landline number.
- Always visit the property you intend to rent.
- Ask for copies of tenancy agreements and any safety certificates.
- Do not proceed if asked to transfer money via money transfer agents such as Western Union, Money Gram or Ukash – use these only with people you know and trust.
- Is the owner on an approved accommodation list? Check with your Students Union or accommodation office.
- Look for accreditation membership such as National Approved Letting Scheme (NALS)
- Protect your deposit. When a deposit is taken other than a “holding deposit”, the money must be paid into a Government approved deposit scheme: https://www.gov.uk/private-renting
Consumers can make a consumer complaint and traders can obtain further advice by contacting the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 08454 04 05 06.
Visit us at: http://www.consumerguardian.org.uk/
1) 'The Warwickshire Consumer Empowerment Partnership is a nationally funded pilot scheme led by Warwickshire County Council’s Trading Standards Service and Warwickshire Citizens Advice Bureau.
The aim of the partnership is to develop an integrated consumer advice, education, protection, empowerment and advocacy body, providing consumers with stronger voice.
There is a CEP in each district/borough of Warwickshire.
2) The Citizens Advice Consumer Service provides free, confidential and impartial advice on consumer issues. Visit www.adviceguide.org.uk or call the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 08454 04 05 06.