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Staying safe from student rental fraud

Posted on 1st September 2016
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Hello and welcome to September’s blog.

As many students gear up to start their next academic year at university, it is important to be aware of a few things to help you to enjoy your time free from fraudsters.

September marks a nervous and exciting time of year for students, moving away from home, starting afresh in a new town, making new friends, and enrolling on your chosen course. However, along with the excitement of leaving home comes the slightly overwhelming thought of arranging accommodation for your time at university, if you haven’t already secured a place in halls.

It can be a bit of a minefield when looking for accommodation for the first time but it is important to take steps to protect yourself from falling foul to student rental fraud.

Rental fraud takes place when victims are tricked into paying an upfront fee for a property that does not exist, or which has been rented to multiple tenants at the same time. 

When searching for a property online always do as much research as you can about the prospective property and landlord. The last thing you want is to be all packed and ready to move, to then arrive on the day to a non-existent property. Fraudsters look for any opportunity to make that little extra money, making your research even more important.

Never pay a deposit or send your money up front until you have checked that the property is legitimate by going for a visit. It may seem like a stretch to make the journey, especially if you are moving far from home, but remember that you will be living here for the next 12 months so it is worth investing in the journey. It is also a great way to get a feel for the area and potentially meet your landlord and check their identification.

It is also important to check that your chosen accommodation has been approved by your student union or university for added security and reassurance. Some properties have also been accredited by the National Approved Letting Schemes (NALS), Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) or Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) so be sure to do your research.

Legitimate landlords will be happy to answer your questions so don’t be afraid to ask.

How to stay safe from rental fraud:

  • Always check the legitimacy of the advert and avoid those with no telephone number, photographs or little information about the property;
  • Ask for a copy of the tenancy agreement along with any safety certificates such as gas or electricity;
  • Always ask for ID from the landlord and check that they are a member of the National Landlords Association (NLA). You can do this by visiting www.landlords.org.uk
  • Make sure that you visit the property with the landlord before handing over any financial information and be wary of those landlords who refuse to let you visit the property.

Just remember, if a deal sounds too good to be true then it probably is. Take a step back from the situation, ask for advice and ensure that you do not hand over money upfront to secure a room before properly researching.

All in all it may seem like a lot to take in but you will be able to enjoy peace of mind in your new home and experience university life to the fullest!

I hope that you have enjoyed reading my latest post. Feel free to go back at look at any other posts for help and advice, along with exploring our cyberhub here

Thank you,

Digital PCSO Shevani Raichura

Do you need a quick answer to a general question? Then we recommend you visit the national Ask The Police web site.