Gardaí warn of renting scams as students look for next-year accommodation

Gardaí warn of renting scams as students look for next-year accommodation

GARDAÍ are warning students looking for accommodation in the city to be wary of renting scams following a number of incidents last year that left families out of pocket.

Detective Sergeant Clodagh O’Sullivan, who works in the fraud office at Anglesea Street, said there were a number of issues last year with fake rooms going up for rent online and people paying deposits before seeing the accommodation.

“A general warning is being issued regarding renting scams in the city. These scams generally target students and focus on student accommodation bookings at the end of the summer and into September.” Detective Sergeant O’Sullivan offered some advice to anyone looking into moving to the city for the next few months.

“The advice is not to do things solely over the internet, have personal contact and research the person you are dealing with on the internet.

“A lot of these scammers are already blacklisted on the internet and this can be used as a warning.” Det. Sgt O’Sullivan also advised people to exercise caution before handing over large sums of money, such as a deposit.

“People should be more careful with their money and not hand over a deposit until they have seen the room and confirmed they are dealing with the landlord.” Regional manager of Threshold Niall Horgan said there were a number of things people can do to protect themselves from scams.

“We had a number of enquiries last year from people who either were scammed or were suspicious of being scammed.” Mr Horgan said they then put up guidelines on their website that can be found by googling ‘Threshold: Be careful of rent scams.’ In the guidelines, the organisation recommends never handing over cash and checking the landlord is registered with the Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB).

They also recommend getting a proper receipt for your deposit and checking the keys work before handing over money.

The warning comes as national housing charity Threshold calls for clear deposit laws to protect tenants, which Mr Horgan said can also help reduce scamming.

Threshold is calling on the Minister for Housing, Eoghan Murphy to commence the deposit protection scheme, provided for in Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2015.

Mr Horgan said if the deposit protection scheme was enacted the deposit would no longer be kept with the landlord.

“If the legislation was enacted it would mean the deposit would be kept with an independent organisation which would decrease the likelihood of being scammed.”

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