Tenants must beware of rental property scams

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Leslie says no one should ever pay over a deposit without vetting the validity of both the property for rent and the landlord.

POTENTIAL tenants should be careful when paying over a deposit for a rental property as there has been a surge of fraudulent rental properties being advertised recently.
This is according to Caron Leslie, Broker/Owner of RE/MAX Property Associates, whose offices operate in the Western Seaboard suburbs of Cape Town. She says many potential tenants are unfortunately falling prey to these con men as there is a chronic shortage of homes available in the area, and pent-up demand is reaching desperate levels.

Leslie says these rental fraudsters are mainly advertising on websites and operate from cellphones only. The supposed landlord asks for a cash deposit to secure the rental and then disappears. The tenant is then left homeless and a few thousand rand poorer.

“I have personally reported a number of fake adverts I came across online, and they were removed immediately. However, I’m sure there are more fake rental property adverts out there and potential tenants would be wise to investigate all of the rental property options carefully,” she says.

When asked what steps tenants can take to protect themselves against these kinds of scams, Leslie says no one should ever pay over a deposit without vetting the validity of both the property for rent and the landlord.

“One way of doing this, is for the prospective tenant to meet with the landlord in person and physically view the property instead of just working from online or print adverts. Those living up-country looking for holiday or short-term accommodation should rather stick to making their bookings through reputable booking agencies or real estate companies,” she says.

Adrian Goslett, regional director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, says the best protection for tenants would be to work through a reputable, registered estate agency as they have more resources at their disposal to determine the validity of the property for rent and the landlord.
Leslie says if a tenant suspects that the rental property they are interested in or its purported landlord is not legitimate, they should rather err on the side of caution and walk away from the deal instead of losing out on a good chunk of cash. Property24.com