Scammers are continuing to target tenants desperately seeking a rental property in today’s tight market.
They are luring tenants in by advertising properties for rent on platforms like Gumtree and Facebook Marketplace or responding to tenants’ own pleas on these sites to find a home. They usually claim to have a property available, send pictures and ask the tenant to pay a deposit, bond, or rent in advance to secure the lease.
According to Consumer Protection, there have been 40 reports of rental scams in WA so far this year, with victims losing nearly $46,000. This is a sharp increase on previous years, with 64 reports and $63,610 lost in 2022 and 48 reports and losses of $32,320 in 2021.
Scammers are also seeking tenants’ personal information such as bank details, driver’s license or passport numbers to commit identify fraud.
Rental scams can have devastating consequences, including financial loss, identity theft, and emotional distress.
REIWA doesn’t want you to become a victim and has developed a comprehensive list of tips to help you avoid getting scammed.
Most properties in WA are managed by property managers, they will not contact you through or advertise on platforms such as Facebook Marketplace, Gumtree or WhatsApp. Be very wary of responding to ads on these platforms or people who contact you via these platforms
Be cautious of rental listings that have extremely low prices. Scammers often try to entice people with prices that are too good to be true. Do some research on www.reiwa.com to see what properties in that area are being advertised for
If the ‘landlord’ says they can’t show you the property because they are away, interstate or overseas, it is probably a scam. Suggesting you do a drive-by of the property is another common trick
Be wary of someone trying to push or rush you to make a decision and send funds to ‘make sure you don’t miss out of the property’
How to protect yourself against rental scams:
Use a legitimate real estate site such as www.reiwa.com
Only deal with property managers or landlords you meet face to face
Check the address: if you see a property on Gumtree or Facebook Marketplace, or have been contacted, google the address or look it up on www.reiwa.com to see if it is actually being advertised. You will probably find it is not. If it is available, contact the property manager directly. An owner pays them to find a tenant, they will not advertise it themselves
Similarly, do a reverse google search of the photos. Scammers usually take photos from properties they find on the internet
Do not send a deposit to secure your chances of getting a property. Agents will not ask for this.
Do not send bond or rent until your rental application has been confirmed by the property manager, and you have a copy of the lease agreement
Never send personal information, such as driver’s license, passport details or bank details direct to an alleged ‘landlord’ Always inspect the property yourself, or if you can’t, have someone else inspect it for you
To avoid payment redirection scams, always call the property manager if you have been accepted for a rental but get an email with new payment details
Be cautious when communicating with potential landlords or property managers via email. Scammers often use email to impersonate legitimate landlords or property managers
At the end of the day, trust your gut. If you feel something is misleading or seems too good to be true, don’t follow through with the property and cease all interaction with the ‘property manager’ or ‘landlord’.
What should I do if I fall victim to a rental scam?
If you have any questions, contact the REIWA Information Service on 9380 8200, Monday to Friday, during business hours.
If you are having issues finding a rental, read our tips for securing a rental property.
Sourced from REIWA