It never fails to amaze me how gullible some people are when it comes to money matters. Consumers are bombarded with ‘get rich quick’ schemes and tricks to get hold of our banking details. Then you get the more resourceful schemes like a fly by night letting agent. These are mostly agents you never meet and whose offices you have never been to. Their sole purpose is to lure you into paying a deposit on a property they have no mandate on and that’s the last you will hear of them.
This is how they operate and how to identify them:
They lure you through falsely advertising rental property on the internet. Mostly the adverts are for new developments or properties where the units are pretty much the same and open to the public. If not, they tell you to drive past the property and give you some lame excuse why you can’t get access to the property.
They almost never meet you at the property and much less at their offices. You are then pressurised into making a deposit by being told that there is a waiting list and that other tenants want the property. By paying a deposit you secure the property, and that’s the last you see of your money and the property.
Golden rules to follow in order to avoid these pitfalls:
- Deal with a reputable company.
- Meet the agent at their offices; generally they will escort you to the property.
- Lease agreements and all other documentation are on branded stationary.
- The bank account you are requested to make a deposit into must match the name of the company you are dealing with.
- Never pay money into an account in the name of an individual.
- Never make a payment before you have signed the required documentation or before you have met the agent or been to their offices.
- Make sure that the agency can provide you with proof that your deposit is kept in an interest bearing account.
- Where possible, deal with a national brand with representation in the area you want to rent in.
Article by John Roberts, CEO of the Just Property Group