Let me tell you, from personal traumatic experience, that there is nothing worse than being scammed while house-hunting.
You're left broke af and utterly traumatised.
You'll never trust another landlord or subletter for as long as you live but you'll also develop a new level of street wisdom that'll prevent ever getting f*cked over again.
It's that time of the year again where the whole Dublin rental market is ablaze... and while scams happen year-round, with September meaning throngs of naive students will fall victim once more to cruel scams.
But thanks to An Garda Síochána you can keep your wits about you this year, with these handy tips.
The major red flags to looks out for, according to Gardaí, are the following:
- The scammer claims to be out of the country and can't show you the property yet requests a deposit - oldest trick in the book, nice try
- The scammer is living at the property, shows a number of people around, collects deposits from several people and proceeds to disappear with the money
- The transaction appears normal until the renter finds that the keys don't work and the landlord has disappeared
People need to establish that the house exists and that it's available for rent. Also try to obtain the full identity of the landlord/agent and find out whether they are actually authorised to rent said property.
Easier said than done in the desperate race to nab a gaff at one of the busiest times of the year, but better safe than sorry.
An Garda Síochána has the following advice for house-hunters:
- Ideally only do business with established bon-fide rental agencies
- Always meet a prospective landlord in the accommodation to be rented
- Ask for the agent's/landlord's identification - driver's licence etc - awkward af in the moment but again, better safe than sorry. Gardaí recommend you take a pic on your phone
- Use cheques or bank drafts to pay the deposit and keep copies of receipts of payment and any correspondence
- Pay the deposit directly to the landlord and the person moving out of the property before you/a courier/any other person
- Ensure keys fit - open the door lock and sign rental contract prior to payment of deposit
The Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) rent index provides students with important benchmark information and is an authoritative guide as to the actual rents being charged by landlords adjacent to all universities, ITs and other third level colleges.
Other useful links:
- Irish Tenancies Board's checklist for students renting for the first time
- Threshold's 'Be Careful of Rent Scams'
- Property Services Regulatory Authority
- Union of Students in Ireland (USI) housing advice
- Competition and Consumer Protection Commission rental accommodation scams advice