5 Tips to Avoid Student Accommodation Scams
The sad truth about finding some student digs when you start university is you’re likely to come across dodgy accommodation options. What’s even worse is that many students fall prey to such scams, resulting in a lot of heartaches and an empty bank account.
Thankfully, it’s possible to avoid student accommodation scams by following a few simple tips and tricks. Here are five of the top ones you need to know:
1. Research Average Rental Prices
The first thing you must do is some due diligence when you’re looking for new student accommodation. Research the local rental market so you can get a clear idea of average rental prices for properties in the area.
If you come across properties that are a fraction of the price of average rentals, the chances are you’re looking at a scam. When something like that seems too good to be true, it usually is! It’s a brilliant first step to reducing the likelihood of being stung in a property scam.
2. Never Make Any Cash Payments
What happens if you find a seemingly genuine property to rent, but the landlord only wants cash payments? Well, such a request should ring alarm bells with you! Legitimate landlords will be happy to accept traceable payments such as bank transfers.
Cash-only landlords will undoubtedly not declare their rental income for tax purposes, and will probably keep your deposit money instead of using a Deposit Rental Scheme.
3. Don’t Rent the First Property You See
It’s easy to fall in love with a property because it offers the right features for you and your housemates. It may even be very close to your university and local amenities. But, one thing you should never do is go with it and not view other properties too.
Viewing multiple properties will give you an idea of issues, including ones that may arise in the future. Plus, you’ll gain valuable experience in the process.
4. Always Have a Written Tenancy Agreement
Landlords that don’t do things ‘by the book’ will often insist you don’t need a written tenancy agreement. They might try to fool you into thinking they are a responsible landlord who has never had problems with previous tenants.
The thing is, verbal tenancy agreements with landlords are wrong on so many levels. They might be legally binding, but they are a legal minefield – especially when you try to get your deposit money back once you vacate the property!
5. Ask to Meet the Landlord in Person
Last but not least, you should always try to meet the landlord in person. When they agree to meet with you, ask them for some identification. A genuine landlord wouldn’t object to such requests.
You should also listen to your gut feeling when talking with the landlord. Do they have insufficient knowledge of their property? Are they uninteresting in learning more about your background? And do they change the subject when discussing issues with the property?