CORK Gardaí have issued a warning to students to be vigilant in their search for accommodation as rental scam season approaches.
While Gardaí confirmed that there were no instances of student scams so far in Cork, it was imperative to be wary and follow a number of basic guidelines to steer clear of fraud.
Sergeant Stewart Philpott said there are a couple of scams that occur, and a few things for people, particularly students, to look out for.
“It sounds like a simple thing but make sure the property exists,” he said. “Sometimes people are looking for accommodation overseas and false photos can be posted online on rental sites for places that are not real.”
Another scam that occurs is a property being shown to a number of people by someone who has access to the building but is not the landlord.
Several deposits are taken and then the renters discover the actual landlord knows nothing about the place being rented and the keys handed out don’t open the doors.
“If you are abroad, get someone to check the property and if you are viewing a place and give a deposit, ensure that the keys you are given work.”
Sgt Philpott said that it was also important to ensure that the money handed over to a prospective landlord was traceable.
“Do not give deposits in cash. “Ensure there is a bank transfer and that the money is traceable,” Sgt Philpott warned.
Finally, Sgt Philpott said, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true.
“It is a problem that will grow,” Sgt Philpott said, “Things are getting tighter and tighter. The problem is kids are getting desperate for accommodation and jump at things.”
Sergeant Clodagh O’Sullivan in the Cork Garda Fraud unit said: “The most important thing for any person looking to rent is to exercise caution when lodging deposits for properties.
“We would advise people to look up the signs of such scams online and be wary at all times when transferring funds to accounts.”