Avoiding Housing Scams

Unfortunately some accommodation adverts are scams, protect yourself by following our check list before handing over money!

A scam is a scheme or situation deliberately set up by someone to deceive you and often to take money from you illegally. Unfortunately some landlords/letting agents advertise properties that don’t actually exist or ask students for large amounts of money before disappearing and never contacting them again. In order to help protect you against falling for one of these scams we’ve created a check list of things you should do before you sign a contract for a flat or hand over any money.

We’ve also put together our checklist in a leaflet as well: 10 Tips to Avoid Housing Scams.

  • ALWAYS – Search online for the landlord/letting agents name and the words “scam” and/or “fraud”, it’s possible that if there’s a problem with the landlord/letting agent someone will have posted about it on the internet previously.
  • ALWAYS – Check the property exists and is in fact private rented accommodation by putting the property address into Google Maps and looking at it on “Street View”.
  • ALWAYS – Check the landlord is registered with Glasgow City Council’s landlord registration section by searching for the property address and landlord’s details. Similarly if you are renting a property that requires a Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) licence you can check if the landlord has this by contacting Glasgow City Council’s Private Landlord Unit on 0300 343 0414.
    • However, just because a landlord is registered with Glasgow City Council doesn’t mean they aren’t trying to scam you out of money. Similarly just because a landlord isn’t registered doesn’t mean you shouldn’t rent from them, if you’re having doubts about a potential tenancy/landlord come in and speak to us.
    • HMOs: Your landlord should have a HMO licence if you live in a property where: at least three people live there, and; the people who live there belong to three or more families, and; the people who live there share a kitchen, bathroom or toilet.
  • ALWAYS – Check the tenancy agreement before sending any money to the landlord/letting agent, the SRC Advice Centre can review this for you and you can email us a copy of the contract to check before you sign if you aren’t able to come in and see us.
  • ALWAYS – Think carefully before handing over money to a landlord/letting agent for anything other than rent/deposit or utility bills, if you aren’t sure if you should be paying a bill or fee to the landlord/letting agent get in contact with the SRC Advice Centre.
  • ALWAYS – Remember that just because an advert is hosted on a supposedly reputable or well-known website, it doesn’t guarantee the person posting the advert is to be trusted.
  • NEVER – let a landlord/letting agent keep your ID, passport or visa documents, there is no legal reason for them to hold this information and it is not a legal requirement for agreeing a tenancy under Scottish law.  If they insist on making a copy, ask them to ensure your details will be stored securely, and destroyed when no longer needed, to avoid potential identity theft.
  • NEVER – Send money to a landlord/letting agent via Western Union or similar money transfer companies, as this is untraceable. If you are transferring money to a landlord/letting agent do so via bank transfer. If they insist on cash or a money transfer company they may be trying to deceive you.
  • NEVER – agree to rent a property where the landlord says it is being “managed” via Airbnb. This is a known scam where fraudsters advertise somewhere like Facebook marketplace and set up fake email addresses appearing to come from Airbnb. Unless you are specifically searching for a property on the Airbnb website, be extra cautious if Airbnb is mentioned.
  • NEVER – Pay anything other than rent or a deposit in advance, if the landlord/letting agent is trying to charge you for anything else it may be a scam. Also only pay the rent or deposit in advance once you’ve carried out the steps above and are happy with the contract the landlord/letting agent has offered.  Beware of bogus emails claiming to be from a tenancy deposit scheme – see our page on deposits for more information on this.

If you have any doubts about a potential property or landlord/letting agent or just want some general advice on finding private rented accommodation contact the SRC Advice Centre by emailing advice@src.gla.ac.uk.