Gardai issue warning after students in Limerick fall victim to rental scams

Gardai said rental scams occur throughout the year but there is a spike at this time of the year when a new generation of third level students are seeking accommodation

Gardai said rental scams occur throughout the year but there is a spike at this time of the year when a new generation of third level students are seeking accommodation

GARDAI in Limerick have issued a warning after students fell victim to rental scams.

Gardai said “a number of students in Limerick have fallen victim to rental scams in recent weeks” as the race for accommodation hots up.

“Unfortunately rental scams occur throughout the year but there is a spike at this time of the year when a new generation of third level students are seeking accommodation,” said Garda John Finnerty of Henry Street Garda Station.

“Because of the rental shortage and the pressure to source accommodation a number of students in Limerick have fallen victim to rental scams in recent weeks,” he added.

Gardai said that the scams usually fall into three categories; The scammer claims to be out of the country and can’t show you the accommodation and requests a deposit; The scammer is living at the property and shows a number of people around, requests a deposit from each and disappears with the money; The transaction appears normal until the renter finds that the keys don’t work and the landlord has disappeared. Therefore people need to establish that the house exists and that it is available for rent in the first place.

So what can a student do to make sure that he/she is not conned? Gardai offered the following advice:

- Ideally only do business with established bon-fide rental agencies.

- Always meet a prospective landlord in the accommodation to be rented.

- Ask for identification, a driver’s licence or Photo identification of landlord or letting agent. etc. (Take a photo of the document on your phone)

- Pay the deposit to the Landlord or agent and not the persons leaving the property or courier or any other person

- Use cheques or bank drafts to pay the deposit and keep copies of receipts of payments and any correspondence

- Ensure keys fit, and sign the rental contract, prior to payment of deposit

Students have not been the only victims of such scams. In recent weeks, a Limerick woman was conned out of €1,000 after the person advertising an apartment to rent used a fraudulent website to deceive her.