Increase in rental scams during 2021 - Tenants bulletin 29
11 June 2021
Increase in rental scams during 2021
Scammers are targeting tenants, who are desperate to secure a rental property in the current tight market, with fake rental listings showing up on online platforms like Gumtree or Facebook Marketplace.
Consumer Protection has received dozens of reports of rental scams with numerous victims losing more than $15,000 between them.
Following recent media releases, Consumer Protection is urging prospective tenants to exercise caution before handing over money.
What you should do
Before making any payments, prospective tenants should:
- Meet the prospective landlord or property manager in person. Also view the property, including the inside, in person. If the landlord or property manager claims an inspection cannot occur as the property is tenanted, insist on an appointment to view it properly.
- Consider going through a licensed real estate agent, rather than responding to a potentially fake listing on websites like Facebook Marketplace or Gumtree.
- Be wary of how you access the property. Does the landlord access the property through the front door with a key? Do they access it via a rear door that appears damaged?
- Be wary of landlords or property managers who claim to live overseas or interstate and cannot meet you in person.
- Be careful of sending your identification and other personal information to an unknown source. This may result in identify theft.
- Be suspicious of properties being rented for well below the current rental market value.
- Do a Google or TinEye ‘reverse image’ search of property photos provided to you.
- Search the address online to see if the property exists or if it is listed by a different agency.
- Ensure you receive the keys and a copy of the signed lease agreement in exchange for any funds you have agreed to pay.
- Remember bonds need to be lodged with Consumer Protection at the Department of Energy, Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety.
- Be careful if asked to pay funds via direct bank transfer unless you are sure the payment is to a licensed real estate agent, contact them in advance to verify the bank details are correct.
You can view information about scams or report a scam on WA ScamNet’s website. Alternatively, you can contact WA ScamNet on 1300 304 054.
This bulletin contains general information obtained from internal and external sources to the Western Australian Department of Energy, Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety. While we use our best endeavours to ensure the information is correct and current at the time of publication, changes in circumstances after that time may impact upon the accuracy of the material. It is your responsibility to ensure the information is still correct when applying it to your situation in the future, including seeking independent professional advice. More information is available on our Disclaimer page.