Beware of online fake property rentals

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02 Jan 2013

A trend of false advertising taking place online in the property market has sparked some concern among real estate agencies.

A trend of false advertising taking place online in the property market has advertisers targeting younger people who may not have know-how of finding an apartment or home to rent on their own.

Lanice Steward, managing director of Knight Frank Anne Porter says her agents have come across cases where they have seen more adverts online advertising properties to let that either don’t exist or do, but do not belong to the person advertising them.

The advertisers seem to be targeting younger people who may not have full experience and know-how of finding an apartment or home to rent on their own.

Steward advises all people (not just those who are younger and inexperienced) to look for a reputable company rather than going the do-it-yourself route.

She says having a reputable company is a safe way to protecting one’s hard-earned money.

As an example, she says in one of the reported cases, an individual who responded to the ad had paid a deposit before receiving the keys or having signed a lease.

No reputable rental agent or company will demand a deposit for a home or any form of payment before the tenant has the chance to view the property, had his credit record checked and signed a lease, she says.

Most companies will operate this way and even most private landlords will make sure the agreement is signed and his tenant is suitable before asking for any payments to be made.

“In most cases, if it’s too good to be true, it is.”

Many of the fake ads have taken photos from other websites, listed the properties under what seems to be a reasonable rental price and they only operate with an email address and rarely a contact number, she says.

She warns people to be careful when looking through ads online and compare what is on offer in the area, if the rental seems lower than the going rate, this should be a warning sign.

“You might think you are saving money by going directly to the landlord and not using an agent but in all likelihood you’re opening yourself up to the risk of being conned,” she adds.

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