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BEWARE OF STUDENT HOUSING SCAMS

 

Sound advice from the NUS:

 

Students are more frequently turning to the web to find properties to rent during their study, but some fall prey to fraudulent adverts by which, when students enquire about the property, they are asked for proof they can afford the rent.

 

The fraudulent landlords who post the adverts require prospective tenants to transfer money as holding deposits without visiting the property, or to prove they have money in order to rent by transferring money to a friend and sending proof. Fraudulent adverts most often appear on free advertising web sites as there is no cost to advertise the fake property.

 

The easiest way to avoid being victim to these scammers is to use your common sense – if the price or location looks to good, then it probably is!

 

If you believe you have been a victim of a scam of this kind, please contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.

 

Follow these top tips to avoid losing out:

  • Never pay a 'holding deposit’, rent or any money without visiting a property

  • Do some research on the landlord to check they are legitimate and has the right to rent the property.


AVOID PAYING MONEY ONLINE


Payments should not be made via money transfer companies such as Western Union and Moneygram; their advice is clear - only use money transfer to send money to people that you know and trust.

 

Never respond to a 'Proof of Funds' scam where you are requested to 'send money to a friend' and then send the details of the transaction to the ‘seller’ to show they have sufficient money to pay a deposit. These result in the ‘seller’ withdrawing the funds using forged identification.

 

 

BEWARE OF MONEY MULES


People who are used by criminals to receive money and then withdraw it to send somewhere else, usually by using a fake story or ‘job offer’. The safest way is to make a payment by credit card in person at a letting agents’ office. A formal contract should be signed before any money changes hands.

 


MAKE SURE THE ADVERT LOOKS LEGITIMATE


Avoid adverts with no photographs of the property or where multiple adverts have the same photographs.

 

 

CHECK THE CONTACT DETAILS


Look for telephone numbers that are based in the UK. Often rental scam adverts only allow contact via email, however, also be wary of telephone numbers beginning 070, which are non-geographic business numbers. Check that landline numbers work as these are often fax numbers that fraudsters find on the internet.

 


USE THE OFFICIAL UNIVERSITY SERVICE FOR PRIVATE ACCOMMODATION


Liverpool Student Homes register landlords and check their properties before they are allowed to advertise on the website. All regsitered landlord commit to meeting the LSH Standards which are a set of quality, safety and property management guidelines. If you live in an LSH registered property and you think it does not meet the Standards, you can complain to us and we will investigate.

 


CHECK YOUR DEPOSIT IS PROTECTED


Where a deposit is taken other than a 'holding deposit', the money must be paid into a deposit scheme approved by the Department for Communities and Local Government.

 

More information about deposits

 

 

HAVE YOU BEEN OFFERED CHEAP ACCOMMODATION?


Students will sometimes receive offers of discounts on accommodation for students who wish to live in private housing or private halls that are not university managed.

The person may claim to be a landlord or working for a landlord and he/she asks students to pay rent in advance, sometimes for the whole academic year. It is very likely that this person may not be a landlord. If you have been approached by anyone offering you a discount or asking for rent in advance, DO NOT give them any money. Some students have lost large sums of money and have had to pay the real landlord the money again.

 

If you are concerned please come and get some confidential advice from the International Support Team at your University or Liverpool Student Homes.

 

Case study

A student made enquiries regarding a vacant flat available in Liverpool. After responding to the advert the owner/landlord requested the student to send copies of his bank statement and a deposit of £500 to be transferred through Western Union.

The student was unhappy with the requests made to send personal information and did not pursue the tenancy.

LSH would advise students not to send any money prior to viewing a property. You should only hand over money when you have checked the tenancy agreement and you have been to view the property to ensure that you are completely happy.

We recommend all students studying in our universities ensure that the prospective property they are making enquiries about is either registered with Liverpool Student Homes and or CLASS Accredited with Liverpool City Council.

If you are in doubt always seek guidance and information from your Student Union or LSH.

Liverpool Student Homes, 140 Mount Pleasant, Liverpool, L3 5SR
Tel Main: 0151 794 3296, Email: lsh@liverpool.ac.uk

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