Beware of rental scam!
Prospective tenants are being warned not to fall for a brazen rental scam which has come to light in recent weeks.
Allen Usher of Property World, the official on-site agency for all new residential developments at Century City and which has a large share of both the resale and rental markets in the precinct, said two incidents of a scammer masquerading as a Property World agent in order to scam people out of rental deposits had been reported to them.
“In both incidents, the scammer advertised an apartment to rent at Century City on Gumtree at a ridiculously low rental – around half the going rate. In both incidents they cut and pasted details off some of our ads on our website to create their own ad and even used our address as theirs to give the mistaken impression they worked for us.
“In both incidents the intended victims were told that there was such a demand for rental properties that they needed to pay a deposit immediately to secure the premises before even viewing it. Thankfully both of these would-be tenants phoned Property World before complying.”
Usher said while the two incidents they were aware of related to Century City properties, where there is a very high demand for rental stock, it was very possible that scammers were also targeting other very popular areas.
“We would caution prospective tenants that if the offer seems too good to be true it probably is.”
Usher also warned prospective tenants never to pay a deposit before viewing the premises, signing a lease or checking the credentials of the estate agent.
“A deposit is only due once the lease has been signed. A request for a deposit before then is highly unusual and should raise a flag.
“If at all possible, do not sign a Lease without viewing the property. If you are from out of town, away or not able to make the viewing appointment, get a friend or colleague to view the prospective property on your behalf.”
Usher said that very importantly to protect themselves, prospective tenants should ensure they are dealing with a reputable estate agent and one which is registered with the Estate Agents Affairs Board.
“And if the estate agent claims to be from an agency, phone the listed landline number of the agency to check as most legitimate companies have landlines.”
He added that one should also check out the email address of the agent.
“Emails from Gmail and Yahoo, particularly when they include a lot of numbers rather than a name, could also be a flag.”