If you are in the market to rent beware of the so-called Phantom Landlord. Rental Scams are still alive and well and all would-be tenants are still being advised to take precautions before handing over money for any rental property.
The phantom Landlord can come in many guises but two are most prominent i.e. the meet and greet deposit scam and the email / online deposit scam.
First off, the meet & greet deposit scam
Potential tenants view a rental property and are requested to pay a deposit and at least one (if not two) month’s rent in advance to confirm they will be renting the property. When you turn up to move in you find the keys don’t work and you cannot access the property. The person who showed you the apartment is nowhere to be found and not contactable. You, the ‘potential’ tenant will find yourself joining a long line of other potential tenants, who have also handed over the money to the same Phantom landlord.
Second: the email / online deposit scam
The email / online deposit scam is similar to the above meet and greet scam. Instead of meeting the Phantom Landlord you liaise with the fraudster via email regarding the rental property. They ask you to pay the deposit directly into a bank account. You may also be requested to forward the transaction receipt along with a copy of some form of personal ID. You’re money is then stolen! Not only that but your ID can be used for further fraudulent activity!
So how to avoid meeting the Phantom Landlord & falling into the rental scam trap?
- If the rent is too good to be true i.e. at an unusually low price in a good location then, be wary!
- Beware of incorrect contact details and phone numbers i.e. missing numbers, or contact numbers that simply ringing out
- In emails, watch out for landlords who claim to be from another country i.e. the UK, Germany & where their use of English is not fluent e.g.
My name is John Nalty and i have an apartment for rent in Dublin, Bakers Yard, Portland Street, Dublin 1 and the price is 600 EUR/month. The apartment was my mother’s, but she died 2 years ago and now i thought i can rent it. I live in UK with my family.”
- It is not advisable to exchange money via email; face to face contact with your potential landlord would be wise
- If you decide to rent a property you are viewing:
- Do not pay the deposit for the property in cash: it is best to use a traceable method of payment, such as a cheque or a banker’s draft
- Do not make any payment unless there is an exchange of key and rental contracts
- Check that the keys you are given fit the locks
Hopefully, with the above in mind your rental experience will be a positive one!