The vast majority of people online are honest, but some fraudsters rely on the internet to commit crime. We take the risk of rental scams seriously. We review every new ad before publication and we look for suspicious patterns of activity. No system can be 100% safe. We advise users to be vigilant, use common sense and to report anything suspicious.
Whether you are looking for a room, or letting a room, we’ve set out a few simple steps you can take to reduce the risk of being scammed.
Looking for a Room?
Do Some Initial Screening
Before you visit the property, try to get a video tour of the property using WhatsApp, Skype, Facetime or similar, and ask questions about the rental. Be suspicious of landlords who do not want to meet, or who ask few questions about you. If the offer seems too good to be true, it may well be a rental scam.
Ask to see a copy of the tenancy agreement and gas & electricity safety certificates. In most cases (unless you are taking a room as a lodger in the landlord’s home) the landlord must use a government approved tenancy deposit scheme. Find out which scheme the landlord will be using. If it’s a rental agent, they must be registered with a government approved redress scheme. Ask which one they are registered with, and verify their registration online.
Find out the landlord’s name, UK address and a landline number that you can also verify.
Visit the Property
Make sure you know exactly where you are going and that you are happy about the safety of the area. Try to take a friend, or at least let somebody know who and where you are meeting and arrange to check-in later. Don’t take valuables or large sums of cash with you.
If you are unable to visit because you live too far, get a friend or contact in that area to visit the property.
Before Making Any Payments
Don’t make any advance payments or commitments until you have visited the property and satisfied yourself that the offer is genuine. The Tenant Fees Act sets out rules for the maximum deposits and fees that a landlord or agent may ask (these rules differ between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland).
Don’t make advance payments through services such as Western Union, Paysafe, Moneygram or Ukash. Even if someone gives you genuine looking UK Bank details, do not assume they are legitimate. It may be safer to use a reputable escrow service.
Protect Your Information
Landlords and agents may legitimately ask to see your identification. In England, this is a legal requirement under the Right to Rent Act. Do not share identification documents until you are satisfied that the offer is genuine.
Letting a Room?
As a landlord, it’s also a good idea to do some initial screening of prospective tenants using WhatsApp, Skype, Facetime or similar before arranging a visit. Get their full name, find out where they work or study, and try to get their landline phone number. You can then call them on the day of the viewing to confirm arrangements. Be suspicious of tenants who offer to take the room without seeing it, or who ask few questions about the property.
On the day of the visit, let somebody know who and when you are meeting and arrange to make contact afterwards. Make sure there are no sensitive documents such as bank statements on display in the property.
Before agreeing to let a room, take up employer / university references and previous landlord references. It can be a good idea to follow up written references by phone to cover off any remaining questions.
When a tenant offers to pay by cheque, be cautious. If they offer an amount greater than required (eg. several months rent), decline it, as it is could be a form of rental scam otherwise known as ‘cheque overpayment fraud‘. If they do pay by cheque and subsequently ask for a refund, check with your bank to make sure the cheque was authentic and that the funds have definitely cleared.
What to Do if You Are Suspicious
If you believe someone is trying to scam you:
- Stop communicating with that person immediately
- Tell us about it
- If you have already shared sensitive information with the person, let the relevant organisation (bank, etc) know
- If you believe you have been defrauded, contact the Police
Place Your Ad Today
We get new users searching our site every day. For the quickest results, start by placing your own Room-Offered or Room-Wanted listing on Roomlets.Rentals.