Pro­tect your­self a­gainst com­mon ren­tal scams

George Herald - Auto Dealer - - News -

To­day's ren­tal mar­ket is a com­pe­ti­ti­ve pla­ce, so w­hen you find the per­fect spot it can be temp­ting to just sign on the dot­ted li­ne and ho­pe for the be­st.

Sad­ly, the­re are mo­re and mo­re scam­mers who are ta­king ad­van­ta­ge of this op­por­tu­ni­ty to du­pe unsus­pecting ap­pli­cants out of their har­de­ar­ned cash.

Da­vid Ja­cobs, Gau­teng re­gi­o­nal ma­na­ger for the Raw­son Pro­per­ty Group, shares so­me of the mo­re com­mon ren­tal scams and ex­plains how be­st to pro­tect your­self a­gainst them.


You ar­ri­ve at a ren­tal pro­per­ty and are han­ded an ap­pli­ca­ti­on on a pris­ti­ne let­ter­he­ad from a well-kno­wn and re­pu­ta­ble a­gen­cy. The pla­ce looks per­fect, but you're told that the­re's a lot of in­te­rest so you need to be quick. Con­vin­ced, you sign the le­a­se and trans­fer your de­po­sit wit­hout he­si­ta­ti­on. W­hen mo­ving day ar­ri­ves, ho­we­ver, your "a­gent" has mys­te­ri­ous­ly di­sap­pea­red, le­a­ving you with no­w­he­re to stay and litt­le ho­pe of re­co­ve­ring your de­po­sit.

The so­lu­ti­on:

"U­sing a let­ting a­gent from a branded a­gen­cy is a good choi­ce from a sa­fe­ty per­specti­ve," says Ja­cobs, "but you need to con­firm that they re­al­ly are who they say they are be­fo­re you ta­ke them at fa­ce va­lue. Scam­mers are f­or­ging do­cu­ments on branded let­ter­he­ads to ta­ke ad­van­ta­ge of pro­specti­ve te­nants, so do­cu­men­ta­ti­on is no lon­ger re­li­a­ble p­roof of a le­gi­ti­ma­te mandate." To a­void get­ting du­ped, Ja­cobs ur­ges ap­pli­cants to dou­ble-check their a­gent's cre­den­ti­als be­fo­re sig­ning a­ny­thing. This is be­st do­ne by vi­si­ting the brand's cen­tral web­si­te to find the branch or fran­chi­se's de­tails and gi­ving them a call to con­firm the a­gent's accre­di­ta­ti­on. "Don't call the num­ber pro­vi­ded by the a­gent in que­s­ti­on, as this could be fa­ke," says Ja­cobs. "Al­ways go di­rect­ly to the cen­tral brand and get the ne­ces­sa­ry con­tact de­tails from the­re."


You ar­ri­ve at a new development to view one of the ne­w­ly com­ple­ted u­nits, but your a­gent has ac­ci­den­tal­ly mis­pla­ced the keys. That's o­kay - you can view the pla­ce through the win­dows, or e­ven vi­sit a si­mi­lar, but not-yet-fi­nis­hed u­nit to de­ci­de w­het­her you want to ap­ply for the le­a­se. You li­ke w­hat you can see, so you trans­fer your de­po­sit and start packing your stuff for mo­ve-in day. W­hen that day co­mes, you ar­ri­ve at the a­part­ment on­ly to dis­co­ver that it was ne­ver a­vai­la­ble, and your "a­gent" has abscon­ded with your de­po­sit and your first month's rent.

This par­ti­cu­lar scam is al­most ex­clu­si­ve to new de­ve­lop­ments," says Ja­cobs, "so it's a good i­dea to be ex­tra cau­ti­ous in this kind of si­tu­a­ti­on. Try not to rent a pro­per­ty that you ha­ven't seen in per­son, and al­ways dou­ble-check your a­gent's cre­den­ti­als be­fo­re trans­fer­ring any mo­ney. This is e­a­sier to do if they're part of a big brand, but can al­so be do­ne via the EAAB."

The so­lu­ti­on: " THE (UN)HAPPY HOLIDAY The scam:

You brow­se on­li­ne me­dia and find a beau­ti­ful holiday pro­per­ty for short-term ren­tal. You get in tou­ch with the lis­ting a­gent and pay your de­po­sit. W­hen you ar­ri­ve at your des­ti­na­ti­on, kids in tow and suns­creen in hand, you dis­co­ver eig­ht or ni­ne ot­her fa­mi­lies ha­ve al­so book­ed the sa­me pro­per­ty, and the let­ting a­gent is no­w­he­re to be found.

The so­lu­ti­on:

"Holiday ren­tal scams can be har­der to spot," says Ja­cobs, "be­cau­se it's u­su­al­ly im­pos­si­ble to view the pro­per­ty in per­son, or meet the land­lord or a­gent fa­ce to fa­ce. Be­cau­se of this, it's dou­bly im­por­tant to do your ho­me­work be­fo­re you hand o­ver any cash. Do so­me Goog­ling, find so­me re­views if pos­si­ble, and al­ways con­firm all de­tails for the pro­per­ty, a­gent and / or land­lord."


You find a gre­at ren­tal pro­per­ty and sign a pri­va­te le­a­se di­rect­ly with the land­lord. You pay your de­po­sit and mo­ve in - e­ver­y­thing is hun­ky-do­ry. Un­be­kno­wn to you, your land­lord has ta­ken your de­po­sit and spent it. W­hen you de­ci­de to mo­ve out, they don't ha­ve the mo­ney to re­fund you.

"This si­tu­a­ti­on is most e­a­si­ly a­voi­ded by u­sing a let­ting a­gent re­gis­te­red with the EAAB," says Ja­cobs. "Doing so not on­ly en­su­res your a­gent is a­wa­re of their le­gal o­bli­ga­ti­ons, but al­so pro­vi­des re­com­pen­se if they fail to ful­fil their re­spon­si­bi­li­ties." If you ab­so­lu­te­ly ha­ve to go the pri­va­te le­a­se rou­te, Ja­cobs re­com­mends as­king your land­lord for on­going p­roof that your de­po­sit re­mains in an in­te­rest-be­a­ring ac­count throug­hout the le­a­se pe­ri­od.

"You are com­ple­te­ly within your rig­hts to ask for re­gu­lar bank sta­te­ments to this ef­fect," he says. "If your land­lord re­fu­ses to pro­vi­de them, chan­ces are so­mething dod­gy is going on."

The so­lu­ti­on:

Newspapers in Afrikaans

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.