Ten­ants beware new rental scams

Lesotho Times - - Property -

THE emer­gence of new rental scams where po­ten­tial renters pay de­posits to a mid­dle­man who then dis­ap­pears with their money once again high­lights the im­por­tance - for both renters and land­lords - to work with an ex­pe­ri­enced, pro­fes­sional and rep­utable rental agent.

Chris Renecle, MD of Ren­prop, says the scam­mers mar­ket le­git­i­mate prop­er­ties that they copy from pop­u­lar prop­erty list­ing web­sites and place on other well-known and widely-used buy­ing and sell­ing web­sites.

“They use the cor­rect im­ages and prop­erty de­scrip­tion, but change the con­tact de­tails and pre­tend to be the land­lord. When peo­ple con­tact them about the prop­erty, they set up an ap­point­ment with the ac­tual agent mar­ket­ing the rental prop­erty pre­tend­ing to be the in­ter­ested party, and tell the renter they have an ap­point­ment with the agent,” he says.

“When the ac­tual renter has seen the prop­erty with the real agent, the scam­mer fol­lows up with the po­ten­tial renter, and if they are in­ter­ested in rent­ing out the prop­erty, re­quests that they pay the de­posit di­rectly into their ac­count as the land­lord.”

Renecle says rental agents charge the land­lord a fee, there­fore the rental de­posit will never be paid di- rectly to a land­lord if an agent is in­volved in the trans­ac­tion - even just show­ing the prop­erty to po­ten­tial can­di­dates.

“In or­der to avoid be­ing scammed and los­ing money, those pay­ing de­posits on a rental unit should only make pay­ments into a rep­utable real es­tate agency’s trust ac­count,” says Renecle.

Fur­ther­more, he cau­tions renters against deal­ing di­rectly with land­lords un­less they know them, or have dealt with them be­fore and know that they are le­git­i­mate.

“Both renters and land­lords can pro­tect them­selves from fall­ing prey to th­ese kinds of scams by work­ing through a rep­utable and ex­pe­ri­enced rental agent,” says Renecle.

“The ben­e­fit of mak­ing use of a pro­fes­sional, rep­utable rental agent - for land­lords in par­tic­u­lar - is en­sur­ing the pro­tec­tion of their as­set through proper ten­ant vet­ting.”

He says this works even more in the land­lord’s favour when the rent- al agent is from the same com­pany that man­ages the sec­tional ti­tle com­plex or apart­ment block, as they know the kind of ten­ant that would best suit the com­plex and be able to ad­here to its rules.

Ben­e­fits for ten­ants deal­ing with a pro­fes­sional rental agent in­clude de­posit se­cu­rity as it’s is paid into a trust ac­count, pro­tec­tion through the lease which will have been pro­fes­sion­ally drafted, as well as en­sur­ing that all le­gal re­quire­ments are met.

Renecle says rental agents are also reg­u­lated, and pro­fes­sional agents will be­long to a num­ber of in­dus­try bod­ies with codes of con­duct that need to be ad­hered to.

He says both ten­ants and land­lords should take what­ever mea­sures they can to pro­tect them­selves as it can be fi­nan­cially detri­men­tal - es­pe­cially for ten­ants - to fall prey to rental scams such as th­ese.

“Work­ing with an agent is just one step ten­ants and land­lords can take to pro­tect them­selves,” says Renecle.

“But bear in mind that not all rental agents are cre­ated equal - both ten­ants and land­lords need to do their home­work and check the agent’s cre­den­tials and ref­er­ences to en­sure they are the best can­di­date for the job.” — Prop­erty24

BOTH renters and land­lords need to work with an ex­pe­ri­enced, pro­fes­sional and rep­utable rental agent.

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