Students seeking to rent rooms in Cork are being urged to be wary of rental accommodation scams ahead of the new college year.
Housing charity Threshold and the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) have warned students to be vigilant when seeking rented accommodation ahead of the publication of this year's Leaving Cert results, on August 13.
Vice President of the USI for the Southern Region, Darren Malone said that, with rents on the rise in Cork, students should be wary of scams and unfair prices.
“We would urge students to be extremely cautious before handing over money for accommodation,” he told The Echo.
“Due to the shortage of accommodation across the country, students are becoming increasingly anxious to find accommodation before the academic year begins.
“Scammers, therefore, see students as vulnerable targets and take advantage of this situation,” he added.
Mr Malone explained that scams can occur in various forms.
“Students have paid deposits over the phone and then when they go to view the property, the property does not exist,” he said.
“There have also been cases whereby students would view a property with the 'landlord' and after handing over the money, they find out that the room as already been let out to someone else or that the room wasn't owned by them to be let out.
“Just last year, we heard of an international student who arrived in Cork City to find that the accommodation that they had paid a deposit for over the phone, did not exist and the student was therefore homeless,” he added.
“We are seeing more and more students presenting themselves to their local Students' Unions and the Gardaí reporting these cases.
“We advise students to make sure to keep all documents, use well-known agencies and pay by cheque and bank draft to avoid these rental scams.”
A spokesperson for Threshold’s Cork office said that students need to be aware that scammers are out there.
Regina Baylor, assistant manager of Threshold Cork, advised students to never pay a deposit to someone without viewing the property and ensuring the person is the agent or owner.
She also urged them to keep the deposit receipt and never give a deposit if the receipt states it is not refundable.
“When you move into the property, take dated photos of all rooms and the inside of the oven, grill, fridge freezer and cooker hob, so that any damage caused prior to your tenancy commencing will not be your responsibility when you move out,” she added.