Fearless Flathunting – 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.
- SEARCH ONLINE FOR INFORMATION ABOUT THE LANDLORD/LETTING AGENT
- 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.
- CHECK THE PROPERTY ONLINE
- 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”.
- CHECK THE LANDLORD IS REGISTERED WITH GLASGOW CITY COUNCIL
- ALWAYS – Check the landlord is registered with Glasgow City Council’s landlord registration section by searching for the property address and landlord’s details. See endnote 1.
- Similarly if you are renting a property which requires an Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) licence you can check if the landlord has this by contacting Glasgow City Council’s HMO unit on – 0141 287 4535. See endnote 2.
- CHECK THE TENANCY AGREEMENT
- 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.
- CHECK THE DOCUMENTATION –
- ALWAYS – check that any documents which supposedly prove ownership of the property are genuine and legal in the UK. Please note it is not necessary to see proof of ownership before you rent a property – it should be enough to check the landlord registration (see above). If you are in any way unsure, get in touch with the SRC Advice Centre.
- KNOW WHAT YOU ARE PAYING FOR
- 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.
- APPEARANCES CAN BE DECEPTIVE
- 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.
- DON’T HAND OVER YOUR PASSPORT DETAILS
- NEVER – Under any circumstances provide your landlord/letting agent with a copy of your 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.
- KEEP TRACK OF YOUR MONEY
- NEVER – Send money to a landlord/letting agent via Western Union 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 Western Union they may be trying to deceive you.
- BE AWARE OF ADVANCE PAYMENTS
- 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.
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 on T: 0141 330 5360 or e: firstname.lastname@example.org
- 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 license 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.