This week we had the unfortunate experience of having to tell several people that they had fallen victim to a scam.

Photos from one of our rental properties were downloaded from the internet and used by someone on Facebook Marketplace to advertise a property that they didn’t own.

Some of the victims had even paid rent and bond and as soon as the money cleared in the scammers account, poof, the scammer disappeared.

Now you may be thinking that it’s a silly idea to send a stranger money over the internet in the first place, but I totally get it.

There are just not enough rental properties going around right now and people are being forced to do what they can to find rental accommodation.

Not only does it break my heart that somebody would take advantage of people that are struggling during this extremely difficult market, I’m also sorry that I can’t offer advice on anywhere else to look right now.

If you do find yourself taking on a private rental however, you need to make sure you are renting from the actual property owner, that you have a proper lease in place, confirmation of bond lodgement and that a property condition report has been completed.

Consumer Protection WA offer legal aid and their website is a great resource to download lease forms, bond lodgements and advice for renters that find themselves in a difficult spot with their rental provider.

This is also a tempting time for landlords, with so many people desperate for housing finding a tenant must be a breeze, right?

Why not skip the agent all together, lease the property yourself and save on agency fees.

While helping others in need is the right thing to do, and while most people do the right thing, as a private landlord if you are putting people into your investment property without the right checks or correctly formalizing the legal arrangements you open yourself up to scammers also.  Our agency just recently helped mediate a fractured tenancy with a private landlord and a tenant they found on social media, this landlord let them move in without a formal lease or full bond payment as they felt sorry for the family. I can understand why in the current climate the landlord wanted to help but, in this case, they were regrettably taken advantage of, they were subject to a lengthy court procedure and have suffered a large financial loss through rent and property damage.

So, landlords and tenants alike, please be careful out there, if a place or person seems too good to be true right now, then every chance it is.

If you are looking for a new home for that unused treadmill or need someone to take up those curtains that you bought that were the wrong size, then I can’t recommend sites like Facebook or Gumtree enough.

When it comes to real estate transactions, this may not be the place.

Good luck out there.

Written by Ben Broadley