select
|

Rental scam warning signs

Tenants need to be constantly aware of all the things that might not "add up" when they look for a property to rent, says Gail Cawood, rental manager for Knight Frank Residential SA.

There are numerous things that need to be remembered when looking for a rental property, especially when one is going through free online advertising sites, where there are often properties advertised with very little information about the physical location of the person advertising or the property itself, she said.

The types of scams being run at the moment are:

- Where the property does not actually exist in the form that it is being advertised online.

This is where the scam artist has taken photos from someone else's website or advert and reuses them as their own. They make up an address and a rental and when potential tenants respond (usually only their email address is given), they usually say they are out of town or the country and have to arrange for keys to be given to the tenant for viewing.

They then ask for a security deposit in order to get the keys.

 - Another possible scenario is where the property and possibility of renting it does exist but the scam artist "steals" the advert and places it with their own contact details.

Any respondents will be able to drive past the property or look for it on a map and think that it is fine. They might then apply and sign a lease (which is usually all via email, again because the supposed landlord says he is out of town) but when it comes to getting the keys, they find that they have signed a lease with a bogus agent or landlord.

In both of the scenarios above the prospective tenants would usually be told that the unit is in high demand and that the deposit payment must be made with some urgency to secure the unit.

"Never, ever," warns Cawood, "be willing to pay over any money unless the property has been viewed and the agent or landlord is willing to meet you in person at the property to be rented."

If the agent is a legitimate agent, he will be willing to meet the tenant in person, preferably at his offices, to sign the lease and to go through all the finer details of the agreement, as well as being able to produce a valid Fidelity Fund Certificate. Even if an agent is a one man operation, and works from home, he will still need to have an FFC in order to work as an estate agent legally, said Cawood.

If there is no agent involved, and the landlord is advertising privately, he should be able to meet the tenant in person to view the property, hand over an application form, sign a lease, and hand over the keys. If ever a supposed landlord says he is out of town and has to get the keys from someone to deliver or courier to the tenant, warning bells should be ringing, said Cawood.

Landlords and agents alike will usually ask for various information from tenants and the application form will often be comprehensive. If things such as proof of earnings, previous rental information, employment information and references are not asked for, the tenants need to ask the question, "Why?"

In addition to relevant information being asked for, said Cawood, all bona fide agents will have to FICA tenants and will do a credit check. The prospective tenant needs to sign the application form giving permission to do a credit check on them.

"With all rentals, whether through an agent or a private landlord, if it sounds too good to be true, it is," said Cawood. "If the rent is low, if they do not do a comprehensive background check, or if they seem lax in the management of the property, these could all be warning signs that the rental is not a legitimate one and the tenant should ask many more questions to be sure that it is."


  Comment on this Article

  Please login to post comments

Post to my facebook wall
  
2000
Characters remaining


    Latest Property News
    • 18 Jan 2018
      The Southern Suburbs make up some of the most popular residential areas in Cape Town, comprising charming groups of suburbs which lie to the south-east of the slopes of Table Mountain. It is seen as the city's most expensive residential neighbourhoods with a choice of various private schools, upmarket eateries, wine estates, beautiful homes and trendy apartments.
    • 18 Jan 2018
      New year, new goals! If you’ve resolved to purchase your first property in 2018, then this 6-step guide from the Rawson Property Group is a must-read. It will help you navigate and simplify what is often be seen as a confusing process of buying your first home – right from the house-hunt to the house-warming.
    • 17 Jan 2018
      While the current property market may still favour buyers, it doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be well prepared before putting in an offer to purchase.
    • 17 Jan 2018
      Lightstone lists Blair Atholl as the most expensive suburb with an average house price of R11.2 million, followed by Westcliff (R10.5 million), Dunkeld (R9.3 million), Sandhurst (R9.1 million) and Inanda (R7.2 million).
    • 17 Jan 2018
      As it currently stands, there are four main ways in which a home can be bought in South Africa, says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, who adds that deciding in which legal entity to purchase the property is not a decision that should be entered into lightly, as each has its pros and cons.
    • 16 Jan 2018
      The start of the new year is symbolic of new beginnings. A good time to take stock of one’s possessions as well as how necessary they actually are. However, seeing as the process may appear daunting – a plan goes a long way.
    • 16 Jan 2018
      The Western Cape is still in the throes of a severe drought and many households have to adjust the way they use and save water. It is a little more complicated in sectional title schemes, however, as it is not that easy to implement grey water systems for multiple users and it is also difficult to monitor water usage accurately if there are no separate water meters
    • 15 Jan 2018
      In ideal rental situations, when a lease is signed the tenant will stay for the full duration of his lease without any complications and the landlord will uphold his obligations, creating a win-win situation for tenant and landlord.
        
    X
    Subscribe to the MyProperty Newsletter

    Name  
    Last Name  
    Email Address  
    Email Frequency
    select
    X
    Share this Page

       
    For Sale Property
    Rental Property
    More Options
    About
    Connect with us
    FEEDBACK